You want to do the right thing for your North Carolina family law and divorce case. A Second Opinion can be a very good thing. During the course of representation, you may become dissatisfied with your attorney or simply want a second opinion, like you would with a doctor. A second opinion is always in order, and your current attorney should welcome a second opinion. However, you can obtain a second opinion without telling your existing attorney, if you wish. You should be comfortable and confident in your attorney at this most trying time in your life.
At the beginning of your case, it may be difficult to know how complex or how simple your case will be. This also may be the first time you have used a lawyer for anything as major as a divorce, custody or family law matter. Also, finding an attorney that is compatible with both your personality, communication style and the needs of your case might be difficult, so do not feel bad about seeking a Second Opinion.
Make sure you get a second opinion on a North Carolina family law, custody, divorce, equitable distribution matter or for an appeal from someone who is experienced and competent in your particular family law issues. Ask the Second Opinion attorney: “how many cases like mine have you handled? How many have your handled in the particular County where your case is pending?”
Look at the Second Opinion attorney’s website. Ask yourself some questions: Is your attorney a North Carolina Family Law Specialist, which, for a Second Opinion in any case with complexity, would be a good choice? Is there content on the Second Opinion Attorney’s website dealing with the area of family law, for which you need the second opinion? Do you think you would enjoy working with this particular attorney?
After you have selected the family law attorney for the Second Opinion, be prepared for the conference with the attorney, if at all possible. Bring all court filings with you, as no attorney can give you a valid opinion on the status of a lawsuit without seeing the underlying pleadings (paperwork) in the lawsuit. If you have signed an agreement with the opposing party, you need to bring that as well. If property is the issue, bring with you the property division affidavit, if this has been done. Bring settlement offers, if offers and counteroffers have been made.
Be relaxed for the conference. Be prepared to explain what the “gripe” is about your current attorney. Is it communication style? Is it confrontation style (not aggressive enough or too aggressive)? Is it that you have formed a lack of confidence in the attorney? These three questions form the basis of many reasons for Second Opinions.
It is difficult to give a Second Opinion on whether a court determination needs to be appealed without the following: 1) the signed court order; 2) the transcript of the hearings; 3) the exhibits for the hearing. Perhaps you will want to start the process of the Second Opinion without these items, but at least try to have the signed court order. Why? Well, written court orders may differ or seem to differ from what the judge said in court, and the basis of the appeal will be an appeal of the written order in most cases.
Be patient, as Rome was not built in a day; your objectives will not likely be able to be realized in a day either.
If you do change attorneys, make sure you get all file items from your prior attorney. Absent emergency issues, give your prior attorney 7 to 10 business days notice to make your file available to your new attorney.