8 Sure-Fire Signs You Hired The Wrong Divorce Attorney

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Concerned Woman and shady lawyer

Finding a divorce attorney is easy. Finding the right attorney is the trick. If you look in your local Yellow Pages, you will see that attorneys can have many types of specializations and there's often no shortage of them. When most people are about to embark on a divorce and need to find a legal professional, they call their neighbor, cousin, sister, or best friend and ask for their attorney's name and number. This is the WORST thing you can do, (unless you don't mind gambling with your life!).

The place to start is to spend some time researching the various ways you can get divorced, decide which model is best for you, and then find an attorney who practices the model you choose. There is self-representation, mediation, collaboration, and litigation. If you begin by looking for the attorney first, you will end up with the modality your attorney practices, and it's possible that isn't right for your case. You can still ask others who they hired and if they were happy with their choice, but you need to ask more questions than that.

RELATED: 9 Things I'd Do Way Differently If I Got Divorced Again

You should also ask attorneys directly what they specialize in and get a sense of their personal styles. If you have a spouse who is self-employed, you want someone who understands how to handle that; if you or your spouse is dealing with some kind of addiction, it's crucial that your attorney understands how to set appropriate boundaries (or ask for supervised visits with the kids if need be). Likewise, if you need a hand-holder but get someone who is gruff, your emotional needs won't likely be met, and you may wind up feeling beaten up in the process. If you need an aggressive lawyer but go with someone kinder and gentler, you will likely feel that your legal needs weren't met.

Remember that your attorney represents YOU. If he or she does something that makes you feel bad or misunderstood, then you should tell him or her. If your attorney can't accommodate your needs or makes you feel bad for speaking up, then let this one go and find someone better suited for you. It's never ideal to have to start over with a new attorney, but the alternative of staying with someone who disregards your needs is a much worse scenario. Here are some things to remember:

  • If someone feels like a good match, they probably are. If someone doesn't feel right, he or she probably isn't.
  • It's okay to make mistakes. You may misjudge the type of divorce you want or need, or you may not pick the best attorney the first time around. Let go of the bad as soon as you can and move on with choosing a new lawyer or a preferred divorce modality (mediation, collaborative, litigation).
  • Don't people please! Marital dissolution is likely the biggest lawsuit you will ever be involved in. It's not the time to worry about hurting someone's feelings. It’s the time to take care of yourself.

RELATED: 5 Crazy Things No One Warns You About Getting Divorce

Here are 8 sure-fire signs you hired the wrong divorce attorney:

1. You don't feel heard, understood, or adequately represented

You should feel like your divorce lawyer is on your side, not acting against you.



2. Your attorney doesn't return your calls in a timely fashion

You anxiously look at your phone, waiting days for them to get back to you on important legal matters.

3. Your attorney doesn't remember your story or important details

Your attorney asks you the same questions and never seems to write anything you tell him down, making you feel unheard.

4. Your attorney rolls his or her eyes when you ask a question

They have an attitude toward you and physically roll their eyes whenever you ask them something, making you feel small and stupid.

RELATED: As A Divorce Attorney, These Are The 3 Biggest Mistakes I See Husbands Make

5. Your attorney doesn't specialize in the areas you need him or her to specialize in

You didn't even realize there were different types of divorce lawyers who specialize in specific areas, and your lawyer is not the one you need.



6. Your attorney interrupts you or in any way disregards you

You can't even get a sentence in before they cut you off, and to make it worse it always happens when you're giving important details.

7. You feel like your attorney is creating busy work to rack up fees

You don't think it should be this expensive and you're pretty sure your lawyer is giving you bogus fees.

8. Your fees are high but you're not sure what he or she has been doing

Before jumping to another legal professional, we recommend that you ask your attorney to speak — off the clock — and air your concerns. If he or she won't talk to you, you definitely have the wrong attorney and it's time to jump ship!

RELATED: Don't Meet With A Divorce Lawyer Until You're Fully Aware Of These 3 Things

Susan Pease Gadoua, LCSW is a psychotherapist, best-selling author, and founder of The Changing Marriage Institute. She has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, the CBS Early Show, and more.