Can You Change Lawyers Mid-Divorce? (Should You?)

Clients put a great deal of trust in a divorce attorney. Having confidence in your legal representative is essential to what could be a long, difficult, and costly process of dissolving your marriage. What happens if the divorce proceedings have begun, and you believe your lawyer isn’t the right choice for you?

In Missouri, you have the right to change lawyers at almost any time. You are not obligated to stay with any attorney you believe cannot represent your interests effectively–after all, you will have to live with the results, not your lawyer. Just be aware that the decision has downsides and should not be taken lightly.

Should You Switch?

  • Depending how far along the divorce has proceeded, a change of counsel is likely to create delays, which will be more expensive for you. The judge and opposing counsel will need to be notified of the change, and your new attorney will need time to get up to speed on your case. They may request a new deposition or settlement conference, file new motions or rescind others. This can add months to the case.
  • Before you make the decision, talk to your lawyer about your concerns. Do they not communicate well or often enough? Is the case taking much longer than you were told to expect, for no apparent reason? Do you feel they are disorganized and don’t grasp important details of your case? Do they not seem to understand your goals and priorities? If they hear your concerns and are willing to address them, then set some clear expectations going forward.
  • Not all issues are fixable, of course. If your styles don’t mesh, or your lawyer is inexperienced compared to your spouse’s counsel, or they are disorganized and make costly mistakes, it’s in your best interest to upgrade, even if you have to pay another lawyer more. If you have lost confidence in your first attorney, and truly feel a change of counsel is the only way to get results, then you may switch in most situations.
  • Note: If you are about to go to trial or already in the midst of trial, you will need to ask the judge for permission to change attorneys, because doing so causes disruptions for all involved.

How to Choose a Divorce Attorney

To avoid the expense, delay and frustration of changing attorneys mid-divorce, take your time when picking a divorce lawyer. Ask people you trust for referrals, but don’t assume what worked well for them is right for you.

Meet with several attorneys and ask questions–about their experience, how they communicate and how often, the expected timeframe, their fees, and more. Tell them what you want–your priorities should matter to them. Get a sense of the attorney’s style. Listen carefully to their responses and ask for more information if you aren’t satisfied. Finally, trust your own instincts.

Divorce Attorney Styles

Your attorney is bound to represent your interests, but each lawyer has a certain style that could affect how your divorce plays out. We describe three main types in Lamb, Pit Bull or Fox: Which Divorce Lawyer Style is Right for You?

With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact our team.