How do one go about firing one's attorney? 17 Answers as of February 07, 2013

My soon-to-be-x-spouse and I have decided to use one attorney for our divorce. What document is needed from my current attorney that I have retained in order to move forward with my spouses attorney who will rep both of us? I'm trying to save money by providing the form for my attorney. Also, is my retainer going to be returned? I never signed anything regarding my retainer.

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The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier
The Law Offices of Seth D. Schraier | Seth D. Schraier
In a divorce proceeding, an attorney cannot represent both spouses as it is seen as a conflict of interest. You may choose to proceed on your own in the case without an attorney representing you and negotiate directly with your spouse's attorney, but that attorney is not allowed to represent both of you during the divorce.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/7/2013
Office of Michael Hyde, Esq | Michael C. Hyde
Several points: 1. It is a conflict of interest for an attorney to represent both parties to an action . If your spouse's attorney does not ask you to sign a statement that you are aware of the conflict and waive your concerns, then you should not fire your attorney. 2. Your retainer: if you have not signed any retainer agreement that defines your and your attorney's responsibilities you should get your retainer back minus any reasonable charges for time spent on your case. 3. You should be represented in the divorce process by someone watching out for your best interests. Your spouse's attorney is looking out for their interests, not yours. 4. Saving pennies by providing a "form" to your attorney may cost you dollars in the long run. You can fire your attorney by simply writing him a letter to that effect. He will then file a motion to withdraw (if any document was filed by him with the court) or simply return any original documents to you along with a letter acknowledging your termination of the relationship. 5. The only time that it is advisable to use the same attorney is if you and your spouse have completely agreed upon the elements of the judgment and are jointly retaining an attorney to draft the appropriate documents for filing with the courts. 6. If there are minor children of the marriage, I urge you to not fire your attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/1/2013
LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
The unused balance of your retainer should be returned. If the retainer was over $1000 the attorney is required to sign a retainer agreement with you. Ask him to sign a substitution of attorney form and return your case file. He has to sign it. However her attorney represents her and may not tell you what your rights are so be careful. I work with both sides a lot and answer questions from both sides but others may not.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/1/2013
Gloria Smith-Grimes | Gloria Smith-Grimes
Just send a letter.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 2/1/2013
Donaldson Stewart, PC
Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
One attorney cannot "represent" opposing parties on a case - it would be a conflict of interest. If only one party is represented, that attorney can work with the other party to reach an agreement, but the attorney cannot give the other party legal advice. With that in mind, you can still ask your own attorney to withdraw from representation and then represent yourself going forward. Just be sure you understand that your spouse's attorney cannot represent you.
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 2/1/2013
    Reade & Associates
    Reade & Associates | R. Christopher Reade
    You need a formal agreement for termination of services. In Nevada, you will need permission of the Court to have an attorney withdraw and leave the party without counsel. As far as return of your fee advance, you should ask your current attorney to provide a final bill, accounting of monies held in trust and immediate return of the balance.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    This is very foolish, one attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce - even more so as originally he was representing one of the parties. Do not do this.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Gateway Legal Group | Christian J. Albut
    You would need a substitution of attorney if a case has already been filed by your attorney or if they have made an appearance for you. If neither has occurred and you do not have a fee agreement with them, you will need to contact them and ask for an accounting or a refund of the funds you have provided.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    John Russo | John Russo
    First of all your wife's attorney CANNOT REPRESENT YOU, you can use one attorney but that attorney can only represent the interest of one of the parties, and guess who's interest he /she will look out for, while telling you don't worry about that little clause you will be fine, why don't you do this let her attorney go and keep yours, she what she tells you, oh her attorney is cheaper, yea right, not in the long run. But if you are set on committing suicide your attorney needs to formally withdraw, just tell them what you want no big deal, as far as refund that's between you two.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    Gregory Brough, Attorney at Law | Gregory Brough
    Anyone can fire his or her attorney. It is usually done in writing. One attorney cannot represent both spouses in a divorce. It is a conflict of interest.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    One lawyer will not represent both of you. Quit trying to be cheap and follow the advice of competent counsel. If you decide to fire her/him, the lawyer is entitled to retain the portion of the payment that has been earned.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    It is unethical for one attorney to represent both parties in a divorce. So, if your spouse's attorney agrees to do so, he is either incompetent or dishonest and you will not save any money in the long run.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    Kalil & Eisenhut, LLC | Michael N. Kalil
    In New York, it is unethical for an attorney to represent both parties in a divorce. Also, every matrimonial client must sign a retainer agreement with their attorney. Your attorney may end up forfeiting some or all of the retainer if there is no retainer agreement. As far a firing your attorney, if the action has been commenced, a substitution of attorney form must be executed by you and the attorney you are firing.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    The Law office of Karla M Mansur
    The Law office of Karla M Mansur | Karla Mansur
    None of this really sounds right. You should find a new attorney and have them handle this and/or advise you on this.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Your spouse's attorney should not even think about representing you. That is a conflict of interest. If you want, you can have your spouse's attorney draw up the paperwork and then you take it to your attorney so that he or she can explain any issues. Your cost will still be minimal.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    SHAPIRO LAW GROUP | ERIC L. SHAPIRO
    One attorney cannot, repeat, cannot represent both parties in a divorce. (Or any matter ) It is a violation of the Georiga Code of Ethics, and likley any other states ethical guidelines.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/31/2013
    Haskell Law Firm | Lori Haskell
    Your attorney needs to draft a Consent Order to Withdraw as Counsel, which needs to be signed by you. Your retainer would be returned based on the amount of work performed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/31/2013
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