Using a lawyer for divorce is almost always necessary. Even if divorcing spouses agree on most issues, a lawyer should be used to draft and file the agreements that are made.
But, what if your lawyer is opposed to your agreements? Is an attorney who changes or refuses your agreement doing you wrong?
My lawyer won't file an agreement that benefits me
Lawyers are hired to provide legal services to clients, so it's easy to think that your lawyer should follow your instruction. However, a big part of the legal services offered by an attorney includes giving advice.
If you wish to draft or file an agreement that is grossly unfair to you or the other party, your lawyer is not likely to allow you to enter into the agreement. Even if the agreement would be beneficial to you, good lawyers know that unfair agreements usually result in the case being reopened and more attorney and court fees being spent.
However, if your lawyer has a conflict of interest and chooses to mislead you out of an agreement that later results in financial damage, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim.
The attorney-drafted agreement is inaccurate or inadequate
A good lawyer will review the fine details of your agreement to ensure you haven't missed any important details and that phrasing is detailed, accurate and legally enforceable.
If your lawyer has drafted an agreement in an incomprehensive or inaccurate fashion, your lawyer may have acted negligently or inadequately. However, simple mistakes can happen to anyone. This act only constitutes a claim of malpractice if the lawyer's mistake caused you harm and financial loss.
The lawyer changed the agreement without telling me
A lawyer holds a duty to communicate with his or her client about developments concerning the case, including agreement offers. The client must understand and agree to all of the terms of an agreement before it is filed by a lawyer.
Lying or misleading a client also goes against the American Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers.
I'm not seeing eye-to-eye with my lawyer
If you and your attorney just aren't on the same page, it may be best to pursue other options. Not getting along doesn't mean your lawyer has necessarily wronged you. It may just not be the best fit. You can choose to terminate your lawyer's responsibilities at any point.
However, if your attorney is not fulfilling his or her duties to communicate with you and/or didn't do an appropriate amount or quality of work on your case, check in with a professional to see if you may have a viable claim. The Gooch Firm is dedicated to helping those who have been let down by a negligent lawyer.