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Can you fire your divorce attorney in Michigan?

Grand Rapids, MI |

I met with a male attorney for a free consultation regarding divorce. He had another female attorney in the office sit in on our talk. We talked about what a simple divorce it would be because we had only been married 2 years and had no shared assets or debt. When I went back the next day to retain him, I was told the female was going to represent me. The divorce was filed and they listed both attorneys names as my attorneys on the Summons and Complaint. So now I'm paying for 2 attorneys when I only needed one for a "simple" divorce! They don't seem very helpful and weren't really interested in what I had to say to fill out the Domestic Relations Pretrial Statement, they just wanted to put what they thought should be on it. Is there anything I can do?

To attorney Lebowitz - I would like to clarify something here. I DO NOT have a preference as to whether my attorney is male or female. I was merely referring to them as "male" and "female" when forming my question to distinguish between them, as opposed to calling them "attorney A" and "attorney B". As stated in my question, I went back in the next day to retain the male attorney, but was told the female attorney was going to represent me. Gender wasn't the issue, the fact I was given 2 attorneys was.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Sure you can always fire your attorney. But you should realize in a law firms situation, especially in "high volume" consumer law practices like family law where the same issues crop up with many clients day after day, unless your case presents unusual wrinkles (you and your spouse have millions of dollars in community property), it's common for senior attorneys to delegate the "scutwork" of the paperwork and pretrial motion drafting and research to younger associates who they supervise. The benefit to the client is they bill at lower hourly rates but have access to more experienced attorneys to "vet" unusual legal or strategic issues they encounter.

    But if your only comfortable telling your tales of woe to a same sex attorney, you should shop around and find one who will take you on, but I think the idea that only women attorneys can effectively represent women in a divorce and vice versa, perhaps once true, is kind of silly nowadays when an equal number of women and men graduate from law schools and there is ample choice and competition among family law practitioners.

    I also think divorce clients put way too much emphasis on whether the attorney is male or female. Perhaps that makes more difference if you're visiting a gynecologist or ob-gyn physician whose probing your private parts, but it shouldn't make a difference in divorce cases. There are many fine family law attorneys of both sexes. We hear the similar sad stories day after day from both women and men whose marriages have run off the rails and try to help them.

    A related idea is personal demeanor, since most divorce cases are negotiated to a narrow results based on the circumstances of the parties (their community property, incomes and earning capacities, length of marriage, etc.) the idea that your attorney needs to be a "shark", a very common misconception, may not be so helpful when most issues are negotiated rather than end up being tried.

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  2. Of course, you can always terminate representation. . But, you should read your agreement again before you do. It might be better, and cheaper, to attempt to work out your differences.

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