"Why Won’t My Divorce Attorney Call Me Back or Return My E-Mails, and What Should I Do"
A good lawyer is usually busy. My office, at times, seems like a hospital emergency room: Aside from choking and turning blue or having a heart attack — you come first. Agree? Not sure? What if your soon-to-be-ex is beating on your front door demanding the kids, your kids, right then and there, now, for the weekend — your weekend! OMG, the police are there too!
That is it: You come first. Everyone else that wants to talk to me at that moment or get an e-mail answer — even my mom — has to wait; but it’s all important. The crisis might even mean I have to spend the rest of the day working on something to file with the court.
What a good divorce attorney does, day in and day out, is juggle a lot of impossible tasks at the same time to figure out what has to be done now. At the same time, he or she is always thinking about getting you divorced and on with your life in the shortest amount of time, and with the most favorable results.
Sometimes, there just isn’t good attorney-client chemistry for effective communication. And without it, you’re never going to have the feeling that your case is as important to your lawyer as it is to you. It’s your entire life, and that’s okay. But before you assume a bad fit, and change to another attorney, stop and really think about the problem.
You have invested time and money, and most of all, have provided your attorney with the most intimate details of your marriage, from sex to addiction issues, all at a time when your world is in turmoil. You are grieving from the breakup of your family. Finances are tight or worse. The kids are suffering.
So, what if you call or e-mail in the middle of the above scenario, and your call or e-mail doesn’t get answered at all that day? Does it mean we don’t care? It’s unlikely. However, if you feel like there is a disconnect that needs to be addressed, you can do so by using our tips for removing any spoken or unspoken barriers to effective communications with your divorce lawyer.
Take a deep breath, and before you jump ship, and risk adding insult to injury, take these Seven Steps:
- Write out the frustrations and concerns you have with the return of calls and e-mails. Just writing out the issues often helps clarify what is working well and what is not.
- Give some specific examples. If you send e-mails at night, but your attorney’s practice is to return e-mails at night, it will always seem like a day passes before you receive an answer.
- Ask your attorney whether your objectives and views are supported in the law or are clouded by emotional issues or other dynamics, as this may explain communication difficulties.
- Don’t discuss your case with just anyone who will listen; this is always detrimental because everyone has an opinion, but they aren’t your lawyer and won’t likely be at your side through the process.
- Sit down with your attorney and work through the list you have compiled. Often a very specific communication process can be established to meet your needs moving forward.
- Re-evaluate your attorney-client relationship and decide whether you want to change counsel.
- If you do elect to change, look at the bigger picture. It is always better to maintain a friendly relationship with your soon-to-be former counsel.
You may indeed find that you have a bad fit with your divorce lawyer. However, I often find that clients don’t know what to expect about the divorce process, and this makes all of the difference. Your attorney really does “get” your situation and is doing his or her level best to undo the entanglements of a marriage now ending. Before you make any assumptions, use the seven steps above to communicate with your lawyer, and if you’re satisfied, stay the course. If you’re not satisfied, you may have made a reasoned decision to change course.