Going through a child custody case is an incredibly stressful and emotional time. The best possible outcome for your child, so choosing the right lawyer to represent you is crucial. However, even after putting in time and money with an initial child custody lawyer, reach a point where you question whether you should switch to a new one.
Lack of communication
The most important part of the attorney-client relationship is regular and open communication. Your custody lawyer should be keeping you updated on the case status, strategy, developments, and next steps, and should make time to address any concerns you might have. If your lawyer is repeatedly unresponsive to calls or emails, reschedules meetings at the last minute, or fails to explain things in a way you understand, it likely makes sense to consider switching representation. You need an attorney for your case.
Loss of confidence and trust
Trusting your child custody lawyer’ competence and having faith that they will fight for the outcome you want is key. The deterioration of your confidence could mean it could be time to move on from this provider if you feel alienated, dismissed, patronized, or doubt they are acting in your child’s best interests. The lawyer-client relationship is built on trust – if yours has become fractured, moving on may be the right decision.
Disagreement over approach
A client and lawyer simply do not see eye-to-eye on the right approach to the case. For instance, your attorney may recommend focusing heavily on attacking the other parent’s character and past behavior. But if you feel strongly that this aggressive approach could ultimately damage your child, it may be wise to switch to a lawyer more in line with your priorities. Disputes over the tone the case should take, the best arguments to put forward, witnesses to call, and general trial strategy are valid reasons to make a change.
Performance and lack of impact
While any custody case will have ups and downs, if weeks and months go by without any tangible progress from your lawyer toward your goals, re-evaluating is needed. For example, if they are failing to get actionable information via discovery requests, not making headway on negotiations outside court, losing on consequential motions, or are prone to repeatedly having trial dates pushed back, deciding to cut ties could be your best recourse.
Other bad behavior
Lawyers are held to strict ethical standards. If your child custody lawyer has blatantly lied, withheld important information from you, colluded with the other party’s lawyer, violated court procedures, exhibited obvious insensitivity to your child’s wellbeing, or otherwise demonstrated unethical behavior, you need a new lawyer immediately. Even if nothing illegal occurred, unscrupulous behavior should not be tolerated.