As long as you have retained a lawyer, that lawyer is yours until you ‘release’ the lawyer from your service. When you ‘retain’ a lawyer, he/she is yours until he/she withdraws.
If you have a lawyer retained (and so does your STBX), the you can’t deal with his lawyer on your own. Just like YOUR lawyer can’t talk to your STBX if he has a lawyer already retained. It’s a legal thing.
The lawyer stops billing when the lawyer is not your lawyer anymore. You must ask for a withdrawal, the lawyer goes to the court and submits his/her motion to withdraw and the judge says OK. At that point, all billable hours that haven’t been billed to you can be billed, and that is the end of it.
From personal experience, my ex had a lawyer he didn’t like. So he tried to work with MY lawyer on his own. My lawyer said she couldn’t work with the ex if he was still represented…she could lose her license or certification. Even after 6 years of no business legally…she was still my lawyer. When she moved to another state, she had to legally/formally withdraw from being my lawyer.
If you guys have an agreement you both want to sign, then you can do that. But know that what you sign is BINDING. PERIOD.
AND JUST A FINAL FYI: I’m sure there are some greedy lawyers out there. But I believe the majority have your best interest at heart. What frustrates us laymen is our ignorance of the legal system. What may seem unfair usually has a reason behind it that makes sense. I highly advise you NOT to be unrepresented. Please don’t let one person’s bad experience taint your view of all lawyers. If you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer, then find another or try it on your own. I have had 2 great lawyers work with me in the past.