Breaking up is hard to do – especially if you have to do it twice in the same divorce, one of those being with your attorney.
Our Mesa divorce lawyers want to stress that the decision to switch attorneys mid-case is not one you should take lightly. One missed phone call or a single unfavorable decision by the judge might be understandably upsetting, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your attorney is doing a bad job or that you need to switch.
However, there may come a time when you need to reconsider your approach to the case, and that could very well mean changing attorneys.
One recent example of this is the newly-announced divorce of wealthy media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng, wife of 14 years and mother of his two youngest children.
As do many couples who are extremely wealthy, the pair signed a prenuptial agreement and even two postnuptial agreements, indicating how their assets would be split in the event of a divorce.
When those agreements were signed, Deng used the services of a high-profile family law attorney based in Manhattan. However, during the course of the Murdochs’ marriage, that lawyer became friendly with the couple.
Deng was reportedly surprised to be served with divorce papers by her husband in recent weeks, and immediately hired the same family law attorney to advise her. However, sources close to Deng say the attorney’s closeness as a family friend prompted Deng to seek a firm with a little more professional distance.
While she was smart in securing legal counsel immediately, she rightly considered that personal relationship a potential conflict-of-interest. Deng reportedly interviewed eight firms before choosing one that she felt best suited her needs.
Of course, not many people have the kind of resources to which Deng has access. One way you can head off potential conflicts is to properly vet your lawyer before agreeing to hire him or her.
Some things to consider prior to establishing an agreement include:
- Meet with more than one lawyer and interview them as you would a job candidate. Bring a list of potential questions.
- Ask the attorney to clearly explain the fee structure up front.
- Avoid if possible hiring a friend or friend of the family or friend of a friend. You’re dealing with highly personal matters, but it’s still a business relationship. Best to keep it professional.
Now, let’s say you’ve hired an attorney and things aren’t going well. As we mentioned earlier, not every slight is a firing offense. Here are some signs it might be time to sever ties:
- Your relationship with the lawyer has broken down. You are uncomfortable talking with him, you’re afraid to ask a question or you don’t communicate effectively.
- You aren’t communicating much at all because he or she isn’t responding to your calls or e-mails. Everyone gets busy sometimes, but your inquiries should generally be answered within 1 to 2 business days.
- You feel abandoned or ignored while in court. This is an anxious time and your lawyer should be by your side to support you. If he or she is off socializing with friends while you wait for your case to be heard, this isn’t fair to you. Speak up. If the behavior doesn’t change, consider moving on.
If you are considering changing divorce attorneys in Mesa, call us today to learn more about how we can help.
Our Mesa family law attorneys can be reached at (480) 833-1113.
Wendi Murdoch Said to Hire New Lawyer in Rupert Divorce, July 31, 2013, By Chris Dolmestsch, Bloomberg News