Is Your Divorce Attorney Meeting Your Expectations?

Submitted by: Cathy

You Don’t Have to Settle For a Bad Divorce Attorney

zzzattorneyI had three divorce attorneys. The first one cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars due to incompetence. The second called me one afternoon after office hours and said to me, “if you ever get horny just give me a call.” Not exactly the service I had paid for!

The third was a sweet woman but unorganized with massive personal problems of her own. I did most of the legwork, paperwork and everything else while she represented me. At least I knew it was being done.

Needless to say, due to the incompetent and unethical behavior of my divorce attorneys the divorce process did not progress in the way I had hoped. There is nothing worse than dealing with the emotional devastation of divorce while, at the same time the frustration of poor legal representation.

When choosing a divorce attorney do your homework AND remember you are not obligated to stay with an attorney who is not meeting your needs and your expectations.

What should you expect from a divorce attorney?

  • Empathy…you are going through a trying time, your attorney should show concern.
  • Your phone calls to be returned within one day. There is no excuse for an attorney to put off communicating with his/her client upon request.
  • To understand the direction your case is taking. Your attorney should be willing to discuss in full with you what is happening in your case and what they expect to happen in the future.
  • To know where your case is in the process. If the case isn’t progressing your attorney should have an explanation. There are reasons divorce cases don’t move smoothly through the family court system and you have a right to know the reason.
  • To know what work is yet to be done to adequately represent you. You should be given an explanation of what the divorce process is like in your area. Will there be interrogatories to respond to? What will the discovery phase be like?
  • Your appointments to be kept. This should go without saying, wish it did. If you have an attorney who cancels appointments, you have a bad attorney.
  • Basic courtesy and civility. Divorce attorneys make a lot of money off their clients. They also have a tendency to view divorcing clients as overly emotional pains in the butt. I have friends who are divorce attorneys, believe me, they enjoy the money but don’t care for the clients. Make sure your attorney pays you the respect you are paying him/her for.

When should you fire a divorce attorney?

  • Mistrust and doubt. The moment you feel doubt about your attorneys motivation to do what is in your best interest is the moment you need to move on.
  • Not responding to phone calls or emails. You can’t expect your attorney to communicate with you daily but if you are asking for reasonable communication and not getting it, get another attorney.
  • Pressure to do something you don’t want to do. Divorce attorneys are notorious for pushing clients to settle divorce cases. If you are savvy you’ve learned your state’s divorce laws and what to expect from a divorce settlement. Don’t let an attorney push you into settling less than you are legally owed.

I put full faith and trust in my first attorney. I was ignorant of the divorce process and an emotional mess. I didn’t bother her with phone calls or communications. I felt she had my back and was getting the job done.

Two days before we went to family court, I had not heard from her. I called her office and she was on the way out for the day. The receptionist thought she had put me on hold but I could hear the conversation on the other end.

My attorney told whomever she was with to “hold on, I’ve got a f…king, insane divorce client I have to talk to.” I had been her client for nine months. During that nine month period, I had had two face-to-face meetings with her and three phone conversations.

During our second meeting my ex husband’s divorce attorney called and my attorney put him on speakerphone so I could listen. He called my ex a “weasel,” said he was a “spineless idiot” who couldn’t make a decision without first talking to his attorney.

I sat, listened, and wondered what my attorney said about me when I wasn’t around. I eventually found out.

Divorce attorneys are not saviors. Most of them are not going to rescue you from an ex who is driving you mad. They are not going to keep you safe from the family court system. They are people who went to law school. They know more about the nasty divorce process than you do but don’t ever make the mistake of putting full faith and trust in a divorce attorney.

When you aren’t getting what you have a right to expect rescue yourself and move on to the next one.

How to fire your divorce attorney

If you do decide to fire your lawyer, you should do so in writing. Your letter should set forth and document any conduct or reasons supporting your decision. It should also give instruction as to where he or she needs to send your file.

However, if papers have already been filed with the court, the process of firing your divorce lawyer is a little bit more complex. While it may vary from one state to the next, there is often a “substitution of Attorney” form, or similar type of form, that you will need to submit to the court. This form has to be signed by your former attorney, you, and your new attorney.
Your new attorney can typically take care of getting your file from your  former attorney, as well as filing the necessary form with the court and notifying your spouse’s attorney.

More Articles:

Divorce Advice for Women: Eleven Things to do Now

To Change or Not to Change…The Locks

Parental Alienation: “A Uterus, Divorce Papers and Bruises”


  1. 3

    Joan says

    Great article Cathy. I had 5 divorce attorneys over a 2 year period. They take your money and refuse to do their job.

    I was chastised by the judge for changing attorneys so many times. I told him he had no right to scold me for getting rid of people who wouldn’t do what they had been paid to do.

    I got my money’s worth out of number 5 but it was like pulling teeth. I know as a group they have ethics they have to follow. Individually the ones I came into contact with had no work ethic and very little concern for anything other than getting their hands on my money.

    Makes me wonder how many people are getting screwed because they hired a bad attorney.

  2. 4


    I’ve practiced family law for thirty years and don’t disagree with any of things Cathy Meyer listed as reasons for firing a divorce lawyer with the exception of the expectation that all phone calls (and email?) will be returned on the same day. One-day turn around time is okay for Amazon but when a divorce lawyer gets a call from a client, there is no way to tell in advance how long the call will take. An hour-long call is not unusual in this practice. Accordingly, the return call may have to wait until the lawyer can give his or her complete attention to whatever the client has to say. BUT the lawyer’s policy about and capacity to return calls should be explained to the client before the client signs the fee agreement.

    I strongly agree and support two other things Cathy Meyer said:

    (1)Divorce attorneys are not saviors. Absolutely true. Ultimately it must be the clients who resolve their own case. This is usually not possible at the outset. In my jurisdiction – where we have an absolutely current court calendar – the average Interval between separation and judgment is 29 months. Only three percent of the divorcing population requires a trial. So 97% of the divorcing population finds a way to resolve their issues, but they need time. We believe that divorce follows exactly the same grief stages that have been identified in connection with death. The people who need a trial haven’t been able to grieve. A case is “ripe” for settlement when each spouse has finished his or her grief process.

    (2) “The moment you feel doubt about your attorneys motivation to do what is in your best interest is the moment you need to move on.” You may feel this way as soon as you sign a fee agreement that calls for hourly billing. More work usually means paid for the client and money for the lawyer. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that when it comes to money, the client may have a greater conflict of interest than with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

  3. 5


    Site was terrible, it didn’t give me any information on how to fire my attorney or what forms are needed to fill out with the courts to dismiss an attorney. Terrible info

  4. 6

    Jay says

    My family lawyer was Mark Borden and his office in Oshawa handled my case for over 2.5 years. The first 2 years I was employed and never late in paying him. Then lost my job and applied for legal aid. This lawyer refused to settle any issue at all and kept telling to keep everything to Legal Aid settlement conference. My case was close to Exit pre trial and 2 weeks before the Legal aid settlement he refused to represent me and sent me email to come and pick up my file. I tried in fixing the problem if there was one but he insisted to pick my file and find another lawyer. I could not get other lawyer because the trial is schedule 30 days ahead and ended up agreeing with all the other lawyer’s term including going to jail.

    Please stay away from Mark Borden in Oshawa and do not get fool by his website.Read more about him in Lawyer’z rating from other clients.

    I called LSUC and they are investigating the case but most likely he will end up with no bad record because bad lawyer know how to find a way out.

  5. 7

    Melony says

    My name is Melony, i had a problem with my husband sometimes ago but never knew what the problem was,i tried to asked him but he refused to tell me what it was as time goes on i discovered he was having an affair with a friend of mine that happens to be my best friend,i was so sad that i never knew what to do next,during my search for a way out i met a friend of mine who had similar problem and introduced me to a man who helped him with his situation,on getting to the man i discovered he was a spell caster i was shocked because i have not had anything to do with a spell caster in my entire life so i tried to give this man a chance cos i never believed in spell casting as i thought it will not work for me but to my surprise i got positive results and i was able to get my husband back from her even after the spell caster did all. i discovered my husband fell much more in love with me on like before so i was so happy that i never know what to do for him so i am using this opportunity to tell anyone on this blog havin similar problem

  6. 8

    elizabirth says

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    my husband left me and the kids for 2 years, i did everything humanly possible to get him back i prayed i even fasted nothing work out.
    i was s0 diver stated i was left with nothing no money to pay for kids up keep. no job my life was tearing apart. till when i head that he was trying to get married to another lady in Italy,Rome..i quickly rush and email Dr.anunu for help and i was skeptical because i don’t really believe he can bring him back to me because its too long we have contacted each other,we only comment on each other status on Facebook and when ever he come online he has never talk anything about coming back to me,now i really believe that there is Magic and Dr.anunu is a really God sent and has Magic because all these things is still like a dream to me,Dr.anunu told me in the first mail that everything will be fine,i called him and he assure me,i have so many doubt but now am happy,i can’t believe it my husband broke up with his Italian lady and he is now coming back to me and he can’t even explain how everything goes, all he said to me was that he want me back,i am really happy and i cried so much because it was just like i am born a new and am really happy and my entire family are happy for me but they never know whats the secret behind this…i want you all divorce lady or single mother to please contact this man for help and everything will be fine i really guarantee you..i have tell all my friends who are in unhappy relationship and they have seen solution in few days ago…if you want to contact him you can reach him through ( that is where you can get to him and i assure you it gonna work fine with you and you will be happy
    i am out of .words am just happy and i will be happy forever because i can never have any problem having Dr anunu.

  7. 9

    Juanita jones says

    Deborah Truscello is absolutely the worst attorney in delaware county pa. Never returns calls, never sends correspondance from the other divorce attorney. She’s in Media….I finally scraped up some money and hired a neww attorney

  8. 10


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  9. 11

    Stephanie says

    I don’t think my lawyer is attentive enough to my case…my soon to be ex husband I driving me mad & my lawyer won’t fight him (lawyer)…I feel like a puppet on strings…I been told to fire my lawyer, afraid it’s gonna cost more $$ and who am I to trust? Help!


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