Can I Change Lawyers or Stop My Divorce?

Can I Change Divorce Lawyers?

Yes, ultimately it is your decision to work with the lawyer you choose. But you should understand that switching lawyers in the middle of the case can (and likely will) costs you more money and may lead to delays in getting the case to trial as the new lawyer has to get up to speed.

You will want to make sure you do not change lawyers right before your court date unless you are certain that the case can be continued (or the new lawyer can be ready to try the case on short notice). You do not want to be forced to go to trial without a lawyer because you fired your original lawyer, and the judge would not grant a continuance to allow the new lawyer to be prepared. It does happen.

Finally, you should expect that your original lawyer will have to be paid any monies you owe him before he will turn over your file to any subsequent lawyer you hire.

Can I Stop the Divorce?

My spouse wants a divorce, but I do not want to give it to her. How do I stop the divorce?

Unfortunately, you cannot stop the divorce. As I tell my clients, it takes two people to decide to get married, it only takes one to decide to get a divorce. The party that does not want the divorce can make it take longer, and cost more, but they cannot force the other party to stay married to them. You can encourage them to reconcile, and invite them to attend marriage counseling with you, and sometimes this will result in a change of heart and a reconciliation. But, unless your spouse is willing to do this voluntarily, you cannot force them, and the divorce will happen – at that point is becomes a question of when and under what terms.

The fact is, under Alabama divorce laws, if one of the spouses insists on a divorce, they are going to get it. There is nothing you can do to stop. You can make it take longer, and you can make it cost more money (but why would you want to?), but you can’t stop it. I tell my divorce clients all of the time, “It takes two people to decide to get married, it only takes one to decide to get a divorce.”

Can you try to convince your spouse to reconcile? Of course. Can you try to convince a spouse considering a divorce to not file and give it another chance. Sure. I always encourage reconciliation. And, if you are struggling in your marriage, a good book to take a look at is, The Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Staying Married. The author is a divorce lawyer and in it, she interviews other divorce lawyers around the country. Because we see so many marriages that end in divorce, divorce attorneys have a unique perspective on the issue.

But, as far as these websites that promise to stop your divorce case, I would just be careful. A few sessions with a qualified marriage counselor or pastor will have a much better chance of being effective than an e-book slapped together by someone trying to capitalize on your desire to avoid divorce.

How long will the divorce take?

I’ll give a good lawyer answer – it depends. In Alabama, we have a mandatory 30 day “cooling off period.” So, if the case is uncontested from the outset, it will take at least that long from the time the Agreement is filed with the Court until the Divorce Decree is signed by the Judge.

On the other hand, if the case has to be litigated, the earliest one can expect to get to trial in the jurisdictions in which I primarily practice (Mobile and Baldwin counties) is 3-4 months. However, it is not unusual for a case to be reset from that initial trial setting for various reasons. I generally tell my clients they can reasonably expect it to be resolved in 6-12 months if a trial is necessary. Occasionally we can get it tried quicker than that and rarely does it take longer.

The length of time it takes to get to trial is just one of several reasons that I encourage my client to try to resolve their case by reaching a fair settlement, if that is possible (sometimes it is not -such as when the opposing party or lawyer is unwilling to work towards a fair settlement in good faith).

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