What Happens When an Attorney Withdraws From a Divorce Case? What You Need To Know

Divorce is a stressful and complicated process that can have a significant impact on the lives of the parties involved.

However, sometimes the situation can become even more difficult when an attorney decides to withdraw from representing one of the spouses.

AN image of an attorney and client exchanging papers
Attorney and Client Exchanging documents [PHOTO COURTYESY OF BERLIN]
This article will explain some of the reasons why an attorney may withdraw from a divorce case, and what consequences it may have for the client and the case.

Reasons for Withdrawal

An attorney can withdraw from a divorce case for various reasons, but they must have a valid and ethical basis for doing so.

Image of divorced wife
Divorced wife [PHOTO COURTESY OF DUPAGE]
READ ALSO : Do I Need a Lawyer for Divorce? Understanding Your Options

Some of the common reasons are:

Non-payment of fees

An attorney has the right to withdraw from a case if the client fails to pay the agreed fees or expenses, or if the client refuses to provide a reasonable advance for future services.

However, the attorney must give the client a reasonable opportunity to pay or arrange for payment before withdrawing.

Lack of cooperation

An attorney may withdraw from a case if the client does not cooperate with the attorney’s advice or requests, or if the client engages in conduct that makes the representation unreasonably difficult or impracticable.

For example, if the client lies to the attorney, hides or destroys evidence, or refuses to disclose relevant information.

Conflict of interest

An attorney may withdraw from a case if a conflict of interest arises that prevents the attorney from representing the client effectively or impartially.

A conflict of interest may occur when the attorney has a personal, professional, or financial relationship with the other party, a witness, or a judge in the case.

The attorney must disclose any potential or actual conflict of interest to the client and obtain their informed consent before continuing or withdrawing from the case.

Incompetence

An attorney may withdraw from a case if they lack the necessary skill, knowledge, or experience to handle the case competently.

This may happen when the case involves a complex or specialized area of law that the attorney is not familiar with, or when the case requires more resources or time than the attorney can provide.

The attorney must inform the client of their limitations and refer them to another qualified attorney if possible².

Illness or disability

An attorney may withdraw from a case if they become physically or mentally incapacitated to perform their duties.

This may happen when the attorney suffers from a serious injury, illness, or disability that affects their ability to communicate, research, analyze, or advocate for their client.

The attorney must notify the client of their condition and arrange for another attorney to take over their case if

Consequences of Withdrawal

The withdrawal of an attorney from a divorce case can have various consequences for both the client and the case.

Image of divorce fees
Divorce Fees [PHOTO COURTESY OF FAMLAW]
Some of the possible outcomes are:

Finding a new attorney

The client will have to find another attorney to take over their case as soon as possible.

This may be challenging, especially if the withdrawal occurs close to a trial date or a deadline for filing documents.

The client may have to pay additional fees or expenses to the new attorney for reviewing the file and getting up to speed on the case.

The client may also have to sign a new retainer agreement and provide a new advance for future services.

Requesting a continuance

The client may request a continuance or a postponement of the case to allow time for finding a new attorney and preparing for the next steps.

However, the court may not grant a continuance unless there is a good cause and a reasonable basis for it. The court may also consider the impact of a continuance on the other party and the interests of justice.

A continuance may result in a delay or a prolongation of the divorce process.

Representing oneself

The client may decide to represent themselves in the divorce case without hiring another attorney. This is known as pro se or self-representation.

However, this is not advisable, especially if the case involves complex or contested issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, or child support.

The client will have to follow the same rules and procedures as an attorney, and will not receive any special treatment or assistance from the court.

The client will also have to face the other party’s attorney, who will have an advantage in terms of skill, knowledge, and experience.

Representing oneself may increase the risk of making mistakes or losing the case.

Conclusion

An attorney may withdraw from a divorce case for various reasons, but they must have a valid and ethical basis for doing so.

An attorney must also follow certain procedures and obtain permission from the court before withdrawing from a case.

The withdrawal of an attorney from a divorce case can have various consequences for both the client and the case, such as finding a new attorney, requesting a continuance, or representing oneself.

Therefore, it is important for both the client and the attorney to communicate clearly and honestly throughout the divorce process, and to resolve any issues or problems that may arise before they lead to withdrawal.

 

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