Can my divorce attorney quit?

Can my divorce attorney quit?

Yes, your attorney can withdraw at any time up to the pretrial stage.  But, if a current hearing is set or motion pending, the attorney must move to withdraw from the case. 

While it is uncommon, divorce attorneys do sometimes drop cases. The reasons that are cited most frequently include conflict of interest, non-payment, and personal reasons such as illness or family reasons. Rarely, a divorce attorney finds it too difficult to work with a certain client.

By far, the most common reason that divorce attorneys quit is non-payment. If you sign a retainer agreement, your attorney is legally bound to work for you until the case is complete. It’s common for an attorney to request a set fee up front and then request payment for hours worked as the case goes on.

If a client fails to pay what was agreed upon, it is grounds for the attorney to dismiss him or her, especially in the pre-trial phase. The attorney must give a client prior warning before dropping the case, and if non-payment is the issue, the client must be given the opportunity to get caught up.

In almost every situation, your divorce attorney will need to go before the court to obtain approval to quit your case. If your case has gone to trial, has a motion pending, or if the hearing is set, a judge will need to grant the attorney permission to quit your case, but he or she is not obligated to do so.

In the event that the court rules for your divorce attorney to withdraw from the case, you’ll need to find new representation. If your trial is eminent, the judge may postpone it in order to give you time to find an attorney and to allow them to get up to speed on the case.

If there is any chance that a client’s case will be negatively affected, it is unlikely that the judge will grant permission for withdrawal.