What Should You Do When a Divorce Lawyer Does Not Respond?

By Jennifer Williams

When your lawyer stops communicating with you about your case, it increases the stress and anger of divorce. If you've hired a lawyer to represent you, you should at least have the peace of mind of knowing that a professional is in your corner. If your lawyer does not respond, there are steps you can take to re-establish communication and keep your case on track.

Rules of Professional Conduct

The rules governing attorney conduct vary little from state to state. They require that an attorney consult with his client regarding case goals and keep the client up to date regarding what documents have been filed. He must represent the client to the best of his ability by meeting filing deadlines and appearing in court as ordered. Failure to meet these responsibilities can result in disciplinary action. Consistent failure to return a client's phone calls and written communications is also grounds for sanctions.


Keep in mind that your lawyer is probably working on multiple cases. He has documents to draft and file, and court appearances to make. He also has other phone calls to return. If your lawyer isn't available when you call, a message left with staff or via voicemail should be all that's necessary to get a return call, especially if you indicate that your issue is an emergency. You have the right to expect your lawyer or a staff member to return your call as soon as possible.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Failure to Respond

If your lawyer fails to respond within a reasonable amount of time, some courts suggest a heart to heart with him before you file a grievance. Let him know how unhappy you are with his performance. If you can't reach your attorney by phone, you can do this in a letter. Ask your state's bar association if it has a customer service program that intercedes in situations in which an attorney's conduct is unacceptable. In Massachusetts, for example, the Attorney and Consumer Assistance Program will contact your lawyer on your behalf to try to re-establish communication.

Bar Complaints

If all efforts to re-establish communication have failed, it may be time to consider filing a bar complaint and replacing your lawyer. The complaint would include an explanation of the problem and a description of the lawyer's behavior that prompted the complaint. The explanation should also be supported by details. Complaints are investigated, at which time you may be contacted by the investigator. If the investigation confirms potential malpractice, a hearing is held that results in discipline recommendations to the state Board of Bar Examiners. Final discipline is decided by the Board and ranges from a reprimand to full disbarment.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Fire Your Divorce Lawyer


Related articles

Checklist for Getting a Patent

Coming up with a brilliant invention can be exciting. Among the most important steps you'll want to take right away is applying for a patent. A patent will protect your invention and keep others from making the same thing and profiting from it. You'll want to start the process early because if someone else has created something similar, the decision on who gets the patent might be based on who created it first or applied first.

Can They Garnish My Wages Once I Have Retained a Bankruptcy Attorney?

Creditors may be able to garnish your wages by getting a court judgment against you when you don’t pay your debts on time. If you are facing garnishment, filing for bankruptcy might help. Once you file, your creditors cannot garnish your wages, and an attorney may be able to help you avoid garnishment even before you file.

What to Do When Your Husband's Attorney Is Not Responding to the Divorce

Divorce can be frustrating and stressful enough, without the process bogging down due to an unresponsive opposing counsel. The court process for divorces is comprised of very specific stages. If your husband's attorney does not respond during any or all of these stages, your case stalls. If you don't have your own lawyer to force a response from his fellow lawyer, there are options that you can exercise yourself.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What to Expect From an Opposing Divorce Lawyer

Dealing with your spouse's attorney can be daunting, but it's his job to represent your spouse to the best of his ...

What Happens If My Lawyer Quits in a Divorce Fight?

When you sign a retainer agreement with your divorce attorney, you enter into a business relationship with him for the ...

A Lawyer's Responsibility to a Client in a Divorce

Divorce can be terrifying, and it doesn't help that you're putting your case in the hands of a professional you've just ...

How to Obtain a Power of Attorney for an Alzheimer's Parent

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association 2011 report. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED