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Reged: 11/08/09
Posts: 3
No Attorney & In WAY Over My Head
      #598082 - 11/10/09 07:51 PM

I need some serious help. I'm in the middle of a divorce in a small town in Alabama. My ex husband and his family have boasted about knowing every cop, judge and lawyer in this town for yrs, and with custody of my 3 yr old daughter at stake, I can't make trial-and-error mistakes.

My attorney was too busy to return phone calls. The only thing I received from him in the mail was a bill. He withdrew from my case before I had a chance to fire him, leaving me to do this alone almost a yr after we started going to court. In a phone call from my ex husband, I learned that a hearing took place w/out my attendance (I was never notified) and the judge had awarded him everything.
-The divorce was granted.
-He would receive the joint income tax return for the entire yr we were married (claiming my daughter from a previous relationship as a dependent).
-He was granted sole physical/legal custody of our daughter.

I was a stay-at-home mom when this started. My ex had kicked me out of the house, taken our daughter inside, locked the door and lied to law enforcement, saying I'd voluntarily abandoned the property months earlier. I had to get a job when I moved back into my mom's house, and without a degree it's hard to get out of waitressing. I can't afford another attorney. I was told both Legal Aid and the Volunteer Lawyer's Program "doesn't/can't take contested divorces." I can't find pro bono help, either.

Through research and numerous phone calls, I learned that as long as I did it within 30 days, I could file a motion to set aside the divorce decree. I was gifted the format for the motion, crossed my fingers and started typing. I read any/every paper I'd received from the Court, trying to make what I had to say sound similar to those. It worked. I was given a hearing and stood before the judge to hear him tell me my motion was granted.

As part of the judge's order setting aside the original divorce decree, we were given the date of our next hearing and ordered to attend mediation. (This mediator would have to be agreed upon by both parties and the court would appoint one if we could not agree.) Until the next hearing, however, my ex would REMAIN the sole custodian of our daughter.

Since then, my ex has decided to allow me to spend 1 day a wk and every other weekend with our daughter. (I was a stay-at-home mom and saw this baby every day of her life, so as you can imagine, this cut to my core.) His attorney mailed me his "reccomend[ation]" for the mediator. I made some phone calls and found a mediator in a neutral location outside of my ex's small town who was willing to let me make payments on the mediation fees (which would be due at the time of service). I left a message with the secretary at his office, confirming my receipt of his letter and making MY recommendation for the mediator. I also asked about the joint tax return, reminding her that the original decree had been set aside and that money was no longer "all his." (I could use THAT as my retainer for another lawyer...) When I didn't hear back from anyone, I called back only to be told that we would be using HIS recommendation and she'd be calling me back any min w/an appt date/time.

I am FURIOUS, but I'm too stressed and uninformed to know what to DO about it. I need information, forms, advice- What am I supposed to do next?

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Carpal \'Tunnel

Reged: 12/31/05
Posts: 10213
Re: No Attorney & In WAY Over My Head [Re: MomInAL]
      #598115 - 11/10/09 11:10 PM

What am I supposed to do next?

1. Send a letter to his attorney objecting to their choice of mediators .
2. Request the court appoint a mediator .
3. hire an attorney .

Careful. We don't want to learn from this.

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recently joined

Reged: 11/08/09
Posts: 3
Re: No Attorney & In WAY Over My Head [Re: googledad]
      #602523 - 11/22/09 11:38 AM

I contacted the judge's office to request that they appoint the mediator & got no response. I can't afford an attorney and don't have enough credit to get a LOAN for a retainer.

Since my first post, I nearly worked myself to death & sold my wedding rings to come up w/the money to afford the mediator. I attended mediation and after 4 hrs we came to no compromise. I thought long & hard and eventually negotiated to joint legal AND joint physical custody- no deal.

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Reged: 10/05/06
Posts: 496
Re: No Attorney & In WAY Over My Head [Re: MomInAL]
      #608602 - 12/07/09 06:37 PM

You have to write up a motion to request that the court appoint a mediator, not just call.

Any time you need to request something from the court, it must be written as a "motion for...." & then file it with the court & get a hearing date.

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Reged: 10/26/10
Posts: 58
Loc: Monument, CO
Re: No Attorney & In WAY Over My Head [Re: junebug]
      #701372 - 10/26/10 04:41 PM

Excellent book which will help you answer ALL of your questions...10 Keys: A Woman's Guide For Navigating a Successful Financial Divorce available on Amazon

Meredith Bromfield

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