What can I do if my attorney failed to finalize the divorce?

We went to court a year ago to finalize the divorce. My attorney has since cut off all contact with me and has not finalized the divorce. I have sent a certified letter, emails and left several voice mails. He has yet to respond. I don't kknow what else I can do.

San Antonio, TX -

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Attorney Answers (3)

Adam Kielich

Adam Kielich

Employment / Labor Attorney - Bedford, TX
Answered

You may need to hire another lawyer to finish your divorce.

Jacqueline R. Kriebel

Jacqueline R. Kriebel

Child Custody Lawyer - San Antonio, TX
Answered

Retain new counsel.

Reid A Seino

Reid A Seino

Family Law Attorney - Salem, OR
Answered

You should first check all of your correspondence with your attorney to see if you missed any sort of notice regarding your case. An attorney will not cut off all contact with a client and still remain on a case without some sort of failure of communication. It may be something as simple as you let your retainer balance lapse to zero or into negative territory and you just need to make another deposit. There may also be a simple oversight that you missed or that you need to deal with before he can continue. That is the first place you should look and it may resolve your issue.

If that is not the case, review your financial and contractual arrangements with his firm. This will create your obligations to the firm but also your rights against him as your attorney. Attorneys, under ethical rules, must communicate with their clients matters that may impact their ability to represent their client, including any reason that may prevent them from continuing to represent in court. You say he has cut off contact. As stated above, he can't simply do that without notifying you of the situation. Work with him and see if you can deal with the matter directly. It may take you showing up to his office to speak with him personally. If he is a solo practitioner, this may be a bit difficult as we tend to be running around a lot and there may or may not be support staff to leave messages with.

If you cannot find a problem contractually or in a letter form and you cannot work with him, you do have the right to seek alternate counsel (i.e. finding a new attorney) and terminating your contract with him. Please keep in mind that you will be responsible for any and all matters that you may be facing so get all the information you can before you take this step. You can contact the county courthouse where your case is filed and speak with their records department to find if anything is still pending or scheduled in your case.

When you end your relationship with him, a letter will be sufficient, and you can ask for your file to be returned to you. This should include copies of all the work he was doing on your case, including the finalization of the divorce. I assume this means preparing a judgment to end the matter. You should look for another attorney in your area, found on your own or through referral from the TX Bar, and sit down with them to work out the final paperwork. It won't be as costly because they only need to draft the document and maybe finalize negotiations but you should be ready to work with them.

Lastly, if you wish, you can contact the TX Bar and see how to go about filing a complaint if this is the road you wish to pursue. A complaint is a way to inform this attorney that his actions were not professional and (may) have impacted you in a detrimental way. Keep in mind that this step is a bit difficult as it will require time, energy, and a bit of effort. He may also disclose confidential matters to defend himself so that is also something to consider.

This answer is provided as a general opinion to a question posted on an internet forum. This does not create in... more

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Divorce

Divorce is the process of formally ending a marriage. Divorces may be jointly agreed upon, resolved by negotiation, or decided in court.

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