Can I Change Attorneys During My Divorce Proceedings?

lawyer holding a pen

In every family law case, the lawyer client relationship is one that is multidimensional. When dealing with such sensitive details of your personal life, finances, and family dynamics, it is important to be working with an attorney you trust and feel comfortable with. However, if after retaining a lawyer for your case, your feelings change or events occur that cause you to seek out other counsel you have the right to pursue alternative representation. However, the court is required to approve this substitution or withdraw. You may discuss your concerns of your previous representation with a Florida Divorce Attorney and we can put you at ease that you will be taken care of and you can be confident in the representation that we will provide for you during this time. We can assist you with the withdraw and substitution of counsel process ensuring the transfer is as smooth as possible.

If you do not have a substitute attorney prepared, you must first ask your current counsel to withdraw. Essentially, you will be firing your attorney and they will be required to file a Motion to Withdraw. These motions are governed by Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.060. This motion will be filed by your current attorney, with your consent, and must contain a reason for withdrawing as well as the name and address of the client. Acceptable reasons for withdraw include when a client discharges their attorney. Therefore, if you simply are dissatisfied with the representation of your current attorney, you can ask them to withdraw and to file a motion with the court. In general, the court will not require you to remain with an attorney you wish to no longer employ. The relationship between an attorney and a client is a service-based contract and a court is not inclined to require you to remain in a contract where you feel as though you are not being provided with adequate service. However, the court may exercise discretion when approving or denying a Motion to Withdraw. If they find the withdraw will prejudice the client, opposing party, or if such a withdraw occurs in close proximity to trial; the court may deny said motion. However, these instances of denial are rare, especially if the client is asking for this discharge.

If you have already retained new counsel, you may wish to instead file a Motion for Substitution of Counsel. This motion requires your consent as well as judicial approval. Common practice is to have the current attorney, the replacement attorney, and client sign the motion and present it to the judge for approval. These motions are much simpler in procedure as you will not have to set a hearing on this substitution motion.

After approval of the Motion to Withdraw or Motion for Substitution of Counsel, the judge will release the current attorney from any further responsibilities regarding the case, and the replacement counsel will file a Notice of Appearance. After discharge of your counsel, you are entitled to the return of all your personal documents and property and a return of any of the unused retainer funds minus your outstanding balance with the attorney.

If you are seeking new counsel for an existing case, you have every right to do so. Contact our Florida Divorce Attorney to discuss the progress of your case as well as the avenue to retain and substitute counsel.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 orcomplete an online contact formto get in touch with a member of our team today.

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