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What can I do? I received an EMAIL from my attorney that she is withdrawing - inital appearance in Family Court is THIS Tuesday

Elmira, NY |

NYS FAMILY COURT I petitioned in 9/12 for violation of child support and modification of the child support order. Initial appearance was suppose to be in Oct '12 , ex got lawyer so I retained lawyer (she sent in notice of appearance) his attorney rescheduled court the day before we were suppose to appear, new court date December '12, then my lawyer requested to reschedule again just a few days prior that Dec '12 court date, now court set for this Tuesday. I received an EMAIL Weds night 1/30 that she is withdrawing . Again, I have to be in court this Tuesday 2/5. I received her file with my paperwork (and her notations) in the mail on Fri 2/1. I called court and they hadn't received anything from her yet as of 1p Friday. What can I expect Tues in court? Never been in court ever.

Went to court. Made to answer some questions even when I said I wanted to seek new counsel. I had to say what I was there for and what I expected to get out of coming to court. I had to decide to get another initial appearance on the records or a hearing. I said hearing. Then given a date and told that when looking for new counsel I needed to be sure they could attend that date because they do not reschedule or adjourn a hearing. Seriously, I have to base my choice of representation on who is available on that day. I don't even feel I should have had to talk since I had no attorney present and it was not my fault. My attorney that withdrew notified the court by email at 1051p the next before court. The other side didn't even know ahead of time I don't think. Any suggestions? Comments on what happened. Fair???

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Attorney answers 5


Unless the Family Court has different rules, once an attorney files a Notice of Appearance she can only be relieved in 2 ways: a) you sign a consent to change attorney form; or b) by filing an Order To Show Cause, which has to be signed by a Judge, and you get a chance to oppose. You should tell the Judge what is going on and you will have to decide whether you want to try and force the lawyer to keep representing you or ask the Judge for an adjournment to obtain new counsel. EIther way, the case will likely be adjourned as your lawyer will not be in court due to no fault of your own.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


Go to Court and explain your situation. I don't think the Court will give you problems and will adjourn the Case in order for you to find a lawyer.


If your attorney filed a Notice of Appearance in Family Court, she cannot withdraw without your consent or a court order. She is still considered your attorney of record at this point. When you go to Court let the judge know what happened with your attorney and ask for an adjournment to retain new counsel. Do not go forward without counsel. You should also send your attorney an email letting her know that she has not been released as your attorney from you or the court and that you expect her to appear on Tuesday. Her behavior violates the rules of ethics that attorneys must comply with when representing clients. Alternatively, you can contact the court clerk and ask for an adjournment on notice to the other side so that you can retain new counsel. ask for an adjournment of the court date before Tuesday, putting the court and the other side.


You go to court for the scheduled appearance, and you bring with you, the attorney's email. You explain this to the Judge and ask for more time to hire a lawyer.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -


Thanks for updating your question so that we could see what happened. I suggest meeting with several attorneys in your area so that you feel comfortable with your choice. It is always disappointing to hear when lawyers leave clients in a bind - whether intentional or unintentional. I hope you find the representation you seek.

Best Regards,

Morghan Leia Richardson, Esq.
Divorce Mediator and Attorney

Richardson Legal PLLC
31-08 Broadway, Suite 204
Astoria, New York 11106
Tel: 212-537-6744
Fax: 212-574-3337

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