This Week’s Blog by Carole T. Orland
Is it Appropriate to Get a Second Opinion in my Divorce Case?
Divorce litigation is difficult. It’s costly both emotionally and financially. It is not uncommon for clients to feel overwhelmed by the process and at times disenchanted with their attorneys. Given that your divorce is one of the most impactful events in your life, you want to get it right. And sometimes, that means getting a second opinion just as you would for example, when it comes to medical care.
What Can I Expect From a Second Opinion?
Often the second opinion will be confirmatory. If you have wisely chosen your divorce attorney, likely he or she has done everything consistent with your best interests. Eliciting a second opinion from another well respected attorney will make you feel more comfortable that your divorce is on the right path. Sometimes a second opinion with a well qualified attorney will enlighten you as to alternative approaches creative solutions, or issues that require attention.
Should I Discuss Getting a Second Opinion with my Current Divorce Attorney?
Ideally, if you think a second opinion is warranted, you should discuss it with your current attorney instead of circumventing him or her. Seasoned attorneys have confidence in their abilities but also recognize that there are times when another set of well-trained eyes on your case can be very constructive. There may even be situations where your current divorce attorney will suggest that you get another opinion. You should consider the recommendation that you do so in the best light, not as a signal that your attorney is giving up on you.
What Information Should I Provide to the Second Opinion Attorney?
When you meet with an attorney for a second opinion you should make sure to provide that attorney in advance with as much information as you can in order for that meeting to be meaningful. This might include, for example: pleadings, Financial Affidavits, Case Management Agreements, any Court rulings, Briefs and Memoranda of Law, Pre-Trial Conference memoranda, reports of experts, appraisals, discovery responses, custody and psychological evaluations, financial documents, settlement offers, and pertinent correspondence.
Schedule enough time with the second opinion attorney to be able to discuss all of the issues. It will also be helpful for you to bring your own written agenda items in order to address all your concerns. Make sure to take notes during the meeting. If you don’t understand something, ask again until you do. Leave the meeting with a clear understanding of all the items you wanted to discuss.
What Should I do After Receiving a Second Opinion?
Make an appointment with your current attorney to review what you have learned. Again, make sure there is enough time to discuss it all. Bring your notes with you. Remember, the point is not to challenge your attorney but to augment what both of you have previously addressed.
In most cases, if you carefully choose your initial attorney and then your second opinion attorney, you will find that you will want to stay with your original choice. While there is added cost to seeking another opinion, it is typically minimal compared to the overall cost of your case and really terrific value in that it will round out your knowledge, set you on a clearer path, and make you feel more comfortable.
If seeking a second opinion causes you to have concerns about continuing with your current attorney, you should discuss that with him or her in a very straightforward manner. Be up front about why you want to change attorneys and request that your attorney cooperate with successor counsel, whether it’s the second opinion attorney you met with or someone else. Do make sure to settle any outstanding bill with your current attorney before moving on. He or she may have a right to retain your file until you do so, but beyond that, it is the right thing to do and will start off your representation with your new attorney on the right foot.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC we recognize that certain divorce clients may want to seek a second opinion and on occasion we even initiate the suggestion that they do so. In certain cases we also provide second opinions with an appropriate protocol in place.