Can You Change Your Divorce Attorney Mid-Case in Florida?
Anyone who is going through a divorce may no longer feel comfortable working with their attorney or is simply not satisfied with their lawyer’s representation. Luckily, Florida law does not prohibit you from changing your divorce attorney mid-case. However, there is a legal procedure that must be followed when replacing a lawyer while your divorce case is pending.
Your Current Attorney Must File a Motion to Withdraw
If you wish to change your family law attorney during your divorce proceedings to seek alternative representation, the court will have to withdraw the current attorney and approve the substitute attorney.
If you are not satisfied with your divorce attorney but do not have a substitute attorney yet, you can ask your current lawyer to withdraw mid-case. This can be through a Motion to Withdraw, which must be filed by your divorce attorney and must contain a reason for the withdrawal and the client’s name and address.
Generally, Florida courts do not deny motions to withdraw an attorney, especially if the reasoning behind the withdrawal is the client’s dissatisfaction with their lawyer’s representation.
Can the Court Deny the Motion to Withdraw?
Florida law does not require you to remain with one attorney throughout a divorce case. After all, any formal relationship between a divorce attorney and their client is governed by an attorney-client contract, and the court cannot force you to remain in a contract against your will.
However, Florida courts have discretion when it comes to approving or denying a motion to withdraw or substitute an attorney. The most common reasons for denying a Motion to Withdraw are:
- The withdrawal would prejudice the client;
- The withdrawal would prejudice the opposing party; or
- The withdrawal is requested when the case is close to trial.
The likelihood of denial of the Motion to Withdraw is minimal when it is the client who is asking to change their divorce attorney mid-case.
Filing a Motion for Substitution of Counsel When You Have a Replacement Attorney
If you already selected a replacement for your current divorce attorney, you should file a Motion for Substitution of Counsel. The motion requires the client’s consent and judicial approval to proceed with the substitution.
The motion must be signed by the client, the current attorney, as well as the substitute lawyer and presented to the judge for approval. The court would not require a hearing on the motion to substitute an attorney.
When the judge approves the Motion to Withdraw or the Motion for Substitution, your current divorce attorney will be released of his or her responsibilities regarding your divorce case. That’s when your new attorney has to file a Notice of Appearance to start representing you.
After you have successfully changed your divorce attorney mid-case, you will be able to return your personal documents and obtain any remaining retainer funds that have not been used by the attorney.
If you want to change your divorce attorney but do not have a substitute lawyer, talk to our Orlando divorce attorneys at Donna Hung Law Group to discuss your options. Our lawyers can help with the withdrawal and substitution procedures and take on your case to maximize your chances of obtaining the most favorable outcome. Call at 407-999-0099 for a consultation.