Skip to main content

Must I hire an attorney to sue my SC divorce attorney for LEGAL MALPRACTICE or may I sue & present my case to a judge myself?

Cincinnati, OH |

I live in the state where my ex & I lived for 3 of the 4 1/2 decades of our marriage until he moved 2 SC for a better-paying position so he could "better provide for our retirement." (Read: to continue his secret adulterous affair.) If it's mandatory 2 hire an atty., must s(he) be a SC atty.? Div. took place in SC. If I myself can sue the div. atty. & present my evidence in court, how do I proceed? What is the process before, during & after the court hearing; the 1st step to the very last? Where do I find all that constitutes legal malpr. in SC? Would the judge be the same one who handed down the div. decree? Can I include in the settlement that the atty must pay the expenses I would incur (transportation, hotel and meals, filing and court fees and any other expenses)?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


You can represent yourself. Should you represent yourself? No. There is old saying that says "a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." This is true for non attorneys as well.

As for the rest of your question...well you are asking for a quick summary of what lawyers spend three years in law school learning and then the rest of their lives trying to master. If you choose to represent yourself it is your responsibility to find out the answers to all of your questions. A good place to start is the local law library.

Good luck.

Mr. Esposito is a Ohio-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Andrew Esposito does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.


You need to hire a SC lawyer to answer all these questions. If there was malpractice, you can get damages, but there's nothing in your question to necessarily suggest malpractice occurred. It just sounds like you had a bad marriage and think you got a raw deal in the divorce which is pretty common with a lot of divorces and often has little to do with "malpractice". The lawyers don't make the facts or the law, they only have to work with what the facts and law as they are given to them.

If you are asking whether you can take this case to a judge yourself, it sounds to me like either (1) this lawyer did something totally outrageous, like didn't put in an Answer, missed your trial because he was on vacation in Aruba, or fell asleep during the depositions, so that even a layperson could establish that "malpractice" occurred or (2) that you don't really understand the concept of "malpractice" or what happens during a "trial" where two parties present radically different versions of "the truth" and a judge must decide between them.

This answer is provided under the “Terms and Conditions of Use” (“ToU”), particularly ¶9 which states that any information provided is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship between you and me or any other attorney. Such information is intended for general informational purposes only and should be used only as a starting point for addressing your legal issues. In particular, my answers and those of others are not a substitute for an in-person or telephone consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction about your specific legal issue, and you should not rely solely upon Legal Information you obtain from this website or other resources which may be linked to an answer for informational purposes. You understand that questions and answers or other postings to the Site are not confidential and are not subject to attorney-client privilege. The full Avvo ToU are set forth at . In addition, while similar legal principles often apply in many states, I am only licensed to practice in the State of New York and Federal Courts. Any general information I provide about non-New York laws should be checked with an attorney licensed to practice in your State. Lastly, New York State Court rules (22 NYCRR Part 1200, Rule 7.1) also require me to inform you that my answers and attorney profile posted on the site may be considered "attorney advertising" and that "prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome".


OK--I agree with my colleagues that if you want to pursue malpractice, hire a lawyer. But it sounds more like you want to file a Motion to Set aside the divorce settlement because you don't like the deal you got. I'm guessing that you are angry about the spousal infidelity, and want the Court to punish your spouse more in the settlement terms in your decree.

1. If there is malpractice--you would be filing a suit for malpractice--and the legal standard for that is fairly high. If the divorce was in South Carolina, you would hire counsel there. The case is not heard in the divorce court--it is a separate civil matter. However, you don't indicate the basis for the malpractice in your question. If there were undisclosed assets--the case may be re-opened to address those issues due to non-disclosure. If the settlement is fundamentally unfair based upon new information not provided at trial, then you also may be able to get the decision set aside.


Quit directing your anger at your lawyer. He or She was the person in the room trying to help you. The question makes you simply sound mean or vindictive because you don't like the decision of the Court or the agreement reached after the fact. You may need to see a counselor to deal with those anger issues. I have seen many cases like this. Move on with the next phase of your life. Anger and hatred are filling emotions that you can live off of for years--but while they may keep a belly full, they do not nourish--and the results of consuming them are empty.

Listen, there may be something not disclosed in your question which IS malpractice--but if I haven't responded, it is because you haven't given a basis for a real response. Because of that, you are probably going to be just as ticked off at me for giving you this direct response. Sorry if this comes off as offensive. However, most lawyers confronted with an angry and spurned spouse won't give them an honest response--just send them off and let them hear what they want to hear. I can't really do that in this forum. To be honest--your question is sort of abusive--and the attack on your lawyer sounds unwarranted. At least, from what you've stated.

The question, as worded, only tells me you hate your ex and are dissatisfied with the settlement because the purveyor of the "secret affair" wasn't punished by the Court. Most states need only incompatibility as a basis for divorce. Once that's established, they do not care about fault or blame--and it does not enter the dollars and cents of dividing the marital assets and debts down the middle--in an equitable settlement.

Get past the anger and move on--find someone new and stop being so full of anger--or you'll waste precious time to move on and get a happier life. You know the old saying--"Living well is the best revenge."

I apologize if I've misread the situation--but I've seen this type of case many times in a quarter century of cleaning up people's divorces and the messes that some have made of their lives--and I've seen many an angry spouse, mad at the husband, transferring the anger to their Attorney because they can no longer direct it at the Husband,

Who do you really want to punish here? Sounds lime the Ex, not the Judge, not the Lawyer--you sound upset because they didn't "help you punish your EX"--and that is not their job. It's a divorce. Find the assets and debts and divide them, rule on custody & support. When the Judge reviews the information--THEY make the call. Get rid of the anger. Good Luck.

The answers to questions provided in response to the request for assistance are general in nature, and reflect information which is primarily based upon general legal principals, and may additionally reflect Ohio principles of legal practice, as this is the primary location of this Attorney's practice. As with any legal advice, the advise is general in character, and should not be put into practice without specifically consulting your local counsel, who will possess far more insight into the applicable standards and laws of your specific State, your case's specific issues and the local Rules of Court and practices of the specific jurisdiction your legal action is governed by. You are specifically instructed : Do not proceed without first discussing this matter with your own local Attorney. This Office does not provide free legal advice by telephone. A 15 Minute Consultation can be obtained at no cost for certain types of legal cases, but to obtain same, an Office appointment is required. Provision of the answers to general questions does not constitute an act of representation, and the Attorney shall not be deemed to accept employment based upon the responses contained herein. The reader is advised that they utilize the general suggestions contained in the responses at their own risk, and under no circumstances should they disregard the advise of their present local legal counsel based upon any suggestions or opinions contained herein. Also, the bast method to discuss a case with an attorney is to do so directly, by scheduling a formal consultation in their office, bringing with you at the time of the meeting all of your relevant paperwork, including any contratcs, any Orders from Court, decrees, complaints, pleadings, etc., and any other relevant information for the attorney to review. General information via the internet is no substitute for an actual meeting with an attorney. The advice provided on line in response to the limited information is provided without charge. It is also provided without the benefit of face to face discussions, so before you act--consult an attorney in person.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


Great answer.

Get Avvo’s 10-part divorce email series

A weekly guide with tips and legal advice for each stage of the process.

Divorce topics

Recommended articles about Divorce

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer