Going through a divorce can be very emotional. 

After all, your life is changing. Your property, income, and custody of your children may be in dispute. 

Hiring the right divorce attorney can have a considerable impact. 

Finding the right lawyer for your divorce could keep you from paying for the rest of your life. 

But what happens when you want to change attorneys? Can you change lawyers in the middle of your divorce? What happens if you change lawyers mid-divorce? And what are things you need to know about finding a new lawyer?

Keep reading.

Can I Change Lawyers Mid-Divorce?

Going through a divorce can be very emotional. 

After all, your life is changing. Your property, income, and custody of your children may be in dispute. 

Hiring the right divorce attorney can have a considerable impact. 

Finding the right lawyer for your divorce could keep you from paying for the rest of your life. 

But what happens when you want to change attorneys? Can you change lawyers in the middle of your divorce? What happens if you change lawyers mid-divorce? And what are things you need to know about finding a new lawyer?

Keep reading.

Can I Hire a New Lawyer in the Middle of My Divorce?

The short answer is YES! You can change your lawyer mid-divorce if you want. 

The reality is that you are the client. Your case belongs to you and not your lawyer. You can change lawyers anytime if you are unhappy with your legal representation. 

Often, the fee agreement you signed will explain about ending your legal representation. 

First, check your fee agreement to see how you notify the lawyer you no longer want them to represent you. 

Can you send an email? 

Make a phone call? 

Or do you need to send a certified letter? 

Your fee agreement should explain how to notify your lawyer that you are making a change.

Second, check your fee agreement for any fees associated with terminating legal representation. 

Does your fee agreement say there is a fee whether you use the lawyer’s services or not? 

Does the fee agreement say that your bill must get paid in full upon termination? Make sure you know what your financial obligations are to your lawyer before you switch.

Finally, ensure you understand whether your lawyer will turn over your file to your new one.

Many lawyer fee agreements allow a lawyer to assert a retaining lien. A retaining lien means the lawyer can keep your file until any outstanding bills and fees get paid. 

If you are changing attorneys, you will want to make sure your file gets transferred fast. Also, ensure that your file is not subject to a lien from the lawyer you fire.

replacing divorce lawyers

Why Do People Change Lawyers in the Middle of their Divorce?

There are many reasons to change lawyers in the middle of a divorce case. 

Sometimes the change is because of the client, and sometimes because of the lawyer. 

The following are the most common reasons clients want to change lawyers mid-divorce.

Unreturned Phone Calls/Unresponsive Attorney

The rules of ethics call for lawyers to communicate with their clients. This rule does not mean that your lawyer needs to hop on a phone call every time you call. It also doesn’t mean they must respond to emails in the middle of the night.

But, it does mean that if you leave a message for your divorce lawyer, they need to respond to your inquiries.

If your calls are not getting returned, you might need to make a change.

Failing to Meet Deadlines

Not turning in your paperwork on time can have severe consequences for your divorce case. 

It can mean you get sanctioned or have to pay your ex’s attorney’s fees. Or that you may not be able to present evidence or call certain witnesses to testify in your divorce trial. 

If your lawyer is not timely turning in your documents to the Court on time, you might need to make a change. 

Communication Breakdown

Another reason is usually a complete communication breakdown between you and the attorney. 

Sometimes this happens because the lawyer does not see things the same way as you. This scenario makes communication difficult and tense. If you find yourself in this situation, it might be time to find new counsel.

hiring a new lawyer

Financial Constraints

The reality is divorce can get expensive. 

You may start thinking that it will settle quickly, only to discover that your case is dragging on and on. 

Lawyers’ fees pile up fast in this situation, and keeping your lawyer may be too much of a financial burden. 

Changing lawyers due to financial difficulties is not unusual and may be best for you.

Your Lawyer Does Not Deliver What They Promised

I often tell my clients that hiring a divorce lawyer is like being in a relationship. Lawyers learn intimate details about your life, so there needs to be trust between you and the lawyer. 

Like relationships, though, what starts as a good thing doesn’t always end that way. Sometimes lawyers overpromise and under-deliver. 

Sometimes lawyers do not understand or appreciate a particular case’s nuances. This scenario can lead to dissatisfaction on both sides. In these circumstances, it may be best to change attorneys. 

There are many other reasons you might want to change lawyers than those listed below.

Changing lawyers is not unusual.

There is no penalty if you want to change lawyers before your divorce. If you are thinking about changing lawyers mid-divorce, consider the tips below.

new divorce lawyer

What to Do If You are Thinking About Changing Lawyers Mid-Divorce

Changing your attorney mid-divorce can be scary. 

You have invested much time and money with your current legal representation.

So the idea of “starting over” can feel overwhelming. To lessen the stress, we offer the following tips.

Talk to Your Current Attorney About Your Concerns

Are you worried about your current situation? If so, talk to your present attorney first. 

Often, conversing with your attorney to work out your differences works. 

A frank conversation may result in the lawyer paying greater attention.

Working out more affordable solutions will lead to better legal representation. It can also help solidify a decision to change lawyers if needed.

Get Copies of Your File as Soon as Possible

If you don’t have it, request your current attorney’s copy of your file. It would help if you did this before you told the attorney you are changing lawyers. 

Remember the discussion about the retaining lien above? If you do not get a copy of your file before you find a new lawyer, you may not be able to get it once you tell you are changing counsel. 

Have Original Documents and Items Returned to You

You will want to get any original documents and items returned to you as soon as possible. 

If your lawyer holds your prized baseball card, you will want that item returned to you. 

Get back your original tax returns, car titles, or other documents before hiring new counsel.

Organize Your Thoughts About Why You are Seeking a Change Before You Meet with New Lawyers

Whenever our office gets approached about taking over a case from another lawyer, we ask the client WHY they want to change. 

Now don’t get me wrong. We aren’t asking clients to dump on our colleagues. We want to be sure that we can meet the client’s expectations and that we aren’t making the same mistakes as the lawyer we are replacing. 

Be sure you can explain to your potential new lawyers what it is about your current legal representation and what made you unhappy. This step will make your second go-around more satisfying.

Check Your Finances

Switching lawyers mid-divorce can be a bit of a financial strain. Your new lawyers will need to learn about your case fast.

Depending on your court deadlines, this may cause you to pay extra lawyers fees for your new lawyers. 

Before hiring a new firm, ensure you understand how much it will cost to get your new attorneys up to date. Also, ensure you get a final bill from your divorce lawyer. This step will help you budget your legal fees for the new attorneys.

Be Patient

Changing divorce lawyers is a process, and sometimes it requires patience. It will take your new attorney some time to get up to date with your case. 

This step may need a continuing hearing or extending deadlines. For clients, this can be frustrating, and sometimes it can feel like you are moving backward. 

But, if you have decided to switch attorneys, give your new lawyers a little time to get familiar with your case and meet your Court deadlines.

firing your divorce lawyer

Set Your Expectations In Line with Your New Lawyers

Changing lawyers doesn’t change the law. 

For example, Nevada law favors joint custody in child custody cases. 

If the facts of your case support joint custody, hiring a new lawyer will not change the law. Your new lawyer may have a clever argument or a different take on your claim, but the law is still the same. 

Just because you change lawyers doesn’t mean the outcome will be different. 

How to Find a New Divorce Lawyer

If you have decided that you have no choice but to seek new legal representation, consider these tips:

  1. Get referrals from people you trust. Almost everyone who knows anyone knows a divorcee. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they have any recommendations for a good divorce lawyer. These can help steer you to better legal representation. 
  2. Do your research. It doesn’t hurt to Google “divorce lawyers” when narrowing down the options for a new lawyer. Gather a list of potential lawyers and do your due diligence. Look the lawyer up on the Family Court website to see how many divorce cases they have handled. Check with the State Bar to ensure the lawyer is not subject to disciplinary action.
  3. Interview potential candidates. Following our steps above, you should have a pretty good idea of why you want a new lawyer and how much you can afford. You should schedule consultations with your list of potential new lawyers.


We hope you found this article helpful. If you need help with your divorce matter or know someone who would like a “second opinion,” give us a call. We can help.