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Can I sue my divorce attorney for legal malpractice?

Many people preparing for divorce devote a great deal of effort to finding the right representation. An attorney gives someone information about state law. They also help divorcing spouses prepare a strategy for the optimal outcome in their case. What a lawyer recommends and how they present the case in court can have a significant impact on someone’s future.

Unfortunately, lawyers sometimes make mistakes when negotiating on behalf of a client. They can fail to disclose a conflict of interest that might compromise the representation they provide. They might even fail to file certain paperwork or crucial hearings, which could potentially put their client at a major disadvantage.

Is it possible for someone disappointed by the performance of their divorce attorney to sue them for legal malpractice?

Did legal malpractice actually occur?

A lawsuit initiated based on claims of legal malpractice is typically only an option if a lawyer failed in their professional duty to their clients. Family law attorneys generally have a fiduciary duty to their clients. That duty requires that they put the best interests of their clients above their own wishes. They also have an obligation to provide a reasonable standard of representation.

If another competent attorney agrees that a lawyer’s advice was inaccurate or vastly inappropriate given the circumstances, then a client may have reason to believe that legal malpractice occurred. Typically, to file a legal malpractice lawsuit, an individual also needs evidence that there were economic consequences for the failings, oversights or negligence of their lawyer.

For example, someone advised to settle a property division issue before the formal discovery process might blame their attorney for the fact that they never received full financial disclosures. They may later have learned about hidden assets which could have affected the outcome of the case.

Given that the opinions and standards of other legal professionals largely determine what does or does not constitute legal malpractice, frustrated clients often need to review the records of their divorce with another attorney familiar with legal malpractice lawsuits. If the case does involve likely legal malpractice, a disappointed client may be eligible for financial compensation. The malpractice claim they pursue could also benefit others by changing how a lawyer practices law.

At the end of the day, taking action when a lawyer’s mistakes lead to a negative divorce outcome could potentially protect those disappointed by the professional they hired.