David R. Hartwig, ESQ.
Attorney & Counselor At Law
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How to spot legal malpractice in your family law case

Mistakes in your divorce and other family law cases can significantly impact your divorce settlement, child custody orders and other issues involved in your case. That is why it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who will protect your rights and guide you through your case.

Getting divorced, handling custody issues, paternity, attempts to modify prior orders, or going through any other family law dispute has a significant impact on your life. You expect the attorney you hire to know what he or she is doing every step of the way. Unfortunately, not all lawyers provide the same ethical and knowledgeable services in these cases.

What is legal malpractice?

Legal malpractice is when an attorney causes harm to his or her client due to their negligence, breach of contract or other mistakes that negatively impact their client and their case. In divorce, legal malpractice can cause several issues affecting the divorce settlement agreement, the length of the case, increase expenses and cause additional stress and headaches for everyone involved.

Spotting legal malpractice can be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with all the steps your lawyer is supposed to be taking during your case. It is important to speak to an attorney experienced in handling legal malpractice issues if you suspect legal malpractice at any point in your case.

Spotting legal malpractice in your case

Every case is unique and specific to your case. However, listed below are some of the most common types of legal malpractice and how to spot them in your divorce or other family law case:

  • Missed filing dates by failing to follow deadlines
  • Failure to fully inform you about consequences of certain actions or impact on your life
  • Failure to present evidence provided by a client
  • Failure to know or apply the law to your case
  • Failure to obtain client consent before taking action
  • Failure to advise about repercussions associated with agreeing to a protective order
  • Not fully working with clients on amended court documents
  • Conflict of interest

In pursuing a legal malpractice claim, you will have to prove the attorney-client relationship, how your lawyer was negligent, breached their duties or contract and the financial loss caused by their actions. Utah has a four year statute of limitations for malpractice claims. This means you need to take action to fix any problems in your case before it's too late to pursue a claim. You may even be able to include your new attorney fees to fix any problems as part of the damages you seek in your malpractice case.

If you have concerns and your divorce is still pending, you should consider hiring a new lawyer to work to minimize the damage to your case. Legal malpractice claims can be difficult to pursue, but they are worth it if you believe you have been harmed. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case so it is best to find someone you can trust to hold your attorney accountable for their negligence.

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