Yes, You Have a Right to Choose Your Attorney
Video Transcribed: Can you change lawyers in the middle of your divorce case in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa divorce attorney James Wirth, and that’s the question that we’re dealing with. Can you just change your attorney?
Can you start with one attorney, switch to another, finish with another? And the answer to that is yes, you have a right to choose your attorney so long as you can afford your attorney. In a criminal case, you may be entitled to one under constitutional law.
If you cannot afford one, one may be appointed to you. In family law, that doesn’t happen absent maybe a contempt case where it’s quasi-criminal. So you’re not entitled to have the attorney of your choice that you can’t afford, but you are entitled to have the attorney of the choice that you can afford and that is willing to work for you. So it is common for people to change attorneys in the middle of their case.
There’s a variety of reasons for that. You obviously want to have an attorney that you’re comfortable with and an attorney that is comfortable with you. So if you’re in a divorce case and you want to change attorneys, you can hire a new attorney.
That attorney can do two things, either file an interim appearance and just get in, allow the old attorney to withdraw, which requires court approval. Or you could file a substitution of counsel that gets the new attorney in and the old attorney out at the same time.
Sometimes there are objections to an attorney getting out of the case, depending on the status of the case. If there is a trial coming up and there’s not enough time for a new attorney to get in and prep and act and represent you effectively at that trial, then there could be objections to withdrawal and the judge could actually deny the withdrawal for that basis.
Also, if there’s been a trial that’s already been had, but it hasn’t been formalized, the decision from the trial hasn’t been formalized to a journal entry, then there may be objection just to get the attorney’s help since the attorney was present at that trial, to make sure that there’s a journal entry that’s entered that accurately reflects the decision of the court.
Absent those two scenarios, generally, it’s not too difficult getting the opposing counsel and the judge to sign off on either a withdraw or substitution of counsel. If you’re looking for a new attorney, have questions about changing attorney, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about that, to get that scheduled and go to makelaweasy.com.