Switching From One Lawyer to Another In the Middle of a Case

On some occasions, a person may want to switch lawyers in the middle of a divorce, child custody, or family law case.  Sometimes clients lose faith in their attorney’s ability to represent their interests in a case, or there is some problem in the communication between the attorney and client which causes the particular client’s needs not to be met.  The reason may have nothing to do with the quality of the attorney or their work product.  Sometimes a client wants to go against their attorney’s advice on a particular strategy or action, and wants a different attorney that will give their blessing to a client’s course of action.  In some cases, the personality of the client and the attorney just are not a good fit, and a change is necessary.

In Colorado, in many situations, it is easy to switch lawyers.  A client hires a new attorney at a new firm, and that new attorney will file a document with the court signed by both the new lawyer and the old one, and in a short amount of time, the new lawyer is now on the case.  This happens all the time in Colorado divorce, family law, or child custody cases.

There are some reasons why it may not be that easy.  One of them might be financial.  Hiring a new attorney requires the client to pay a deposit retainer to the new firm, and it will take some time (usually) before the old firm releases its remaining retainer to the client.  Therefore, an additional advance payment is usually needed to get a new attorney.

Usually the most important difficulty in getting a new attorney is timing.  If your case has a contested hearing date scheduled in the near future, the attorney will probably not be able to be prepared for the hearing that quickly.  Or, the new attorney may have a scheduling conflict with an upcoming court date. Also, the longer the case has gone on prior to switching attorneys, the more work the new attorney needs to put into the case in order to get “up to speed” on the matter.

Basically, while it is not that uncommon for a party in the middle of a divorce or family law case to switch attorneys (even more than once!), the earlier in the case that it happens, the better.  While there will always be deadlines that the new attorney will need to get up to speed on right away, it is generally a much smoother process to switch attorneys in the beginning stages of a case then near the end.


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