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Steps to Changing Attorneys During Divorce

If you’re in the midst of a divorce case, you may have reached a juncture at which you desire to obtain different representation. As a consequence, you may have very real questions about what you need to do to terminate your current attorney and retain a different lawyer. There are some steps to changing attorneys during divorce that you need to bear in mind. There are five elements or steps associated with replacing your divorce lawyer:

  • Consideration of the timing of your desire to switch lawyers
  • Finding a replace divorce attorney
  • Terminating existing divorce lawyer
  • Court paperwork regarding changing attorneys during divorce
  • Obtain file from initial divorce attorney
Timing of Desire to Change Lawyers

The timing of when you desire to switch attorneys if a key consideration. If representation has only fairly recently commenced, and a divorce case is not yet pending in court, changing lawyers is a manageable process that doesn’t require court approval. If a divorce case has been pending for some time, particularly if the proceedings are near an important hearing or a divorce trial itself, you will need approval from the judge.

Find a Replacement Divorce Lawyer

Before dismissing your existing divorce lawyer, you need to make sure you have a replacement attorney in place. Take care in ensuring that your replacement lawyer is a legal professional who you sincerely believe will meet your needs, goals, and objective. You will want to make sure to undertake thorough due diligence in researching a potential replacement lawyer.

Terminate Representation of Current Divorce Attorney

Your initial divorce attorney must be formally terminated. The termination needs to be undertaken in writing so that there is no confusion about your decision to obtain new legal representation.

Assuming you already have new counsel retained, provide your initial counsel with the name and contact information for that attorney. As will be discussed in a moment, you will need to retrieve your case file from the initial lawyer. You can direct that attorney to coordinate transfer of your case file with your newly retained lawyer.

Motion to Substitute Counsel

When it comes to changing attorneys during divorce, you may need to file a motion getting permission to change attorneys. The new attorney will prepare and file the motion to substitute counsel with the court. Your new attorney will also send the attorney for your spouse (or your spouse if he or she is not represented) a copy of the motion in question. However, usually the court will only require filing a Substitute of Attorney which is signed by outgoing and ingoing counsel advising the court and the “other side” in the case of new counsel.

Obtain File From Initial Divorce Lawyer

A key part of the process of getting a new attorney in your marriage dissolution case is to obtain your complete divorce file from your original lawyer. Legally speaking, the case file is your property. Your dismissed attorney is entitled to maintain a copy of the file in the event that some issue arises in regard to representations provided.

You are entitled to obtain your court file promptly. Your new attorney can assist in obtaining the file. In fact, provided you’ve hired a new lawyer, your replacement counsel will initiate the process of obtaining your court file.

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances