My divorce case may go to court in September, but I've been separated for a year, now. Under a temporary custody and exclusive use of property ruling, my stbx and two young girls have been living in the big, beautiful house I built 5 years ago. I've been out of work (contractor) for most of a year, living in the spare room of a relative, getting foodstamps. I get Wednesday and alternate weekend days with my girls, but no overnights, as I have no place for them.
I've toughed it out for a year, both proving my sobriety and trying to find gainful employment. Working 15 hours a week right now, as a night janitor for minimum wage... only interview I've gotten in months of applying.
I've been building my case on my own, but my divorce support group is trying to convince me I need a lawyer. She's got the biggest, baddest DLawyer in town, and I'm broke and getting broker. I think I've got a good case for getting joint custody, (or at least 50/50 parenting time), but will need transitional support to be able to provide an adequate home for them.
I know most of you think support is for lazy bums, but she got a judge to kick me out when things are at their worst here in Oregon, and she's making $108K/year and I'm on foodstamps. I'll be asking for transitional support so I can maintain a house and go back to school to change careers... looking into the healthcare industry.
If I'm to get a lawyer, I'll need to enter a motion for pre-trial counselor fees. From what I've been reading, any motion for "pendente lite" fees or support can often set the tone for the entire trial, as it's when the judge first gets a look at the details of the case.
I'm thinking I should make my pre-trial request as thorough as my entire case will be, and ask for penente lite support as well as counselor fees. It's still 2 1/2 months to the trial, our local court system is backed up and postponing cases already, and her lawyer has a rep for postponing and stonewalling until the other party can't take anymore and gives in.
If I put in the motion for pre-trial support and fees, I believe the judge must make a ruling based upon the affidavits and calculation forms, rather than on who beats up who in court. Am I right?
I believe I have the sympathy of the judge, because during the emergency custody hearing, he told me when I get back on my feet come and see him about getting overnights. (my wife was shooting for limited, supervised visits only.) I also told him I felt I was eligible for compensatory support for the years I paid everything while she was in college, and he told me to submit a motion. I didn't, because I was feeling guilty about my fault in this mess, and wanted to try to get myself out of it.
I'm finally starting to get control of my emotions in this matter, and have to see it as a business conflict, and that she's trying to take my children away from me. I need to be a family with them again, not a visitation, "Disney Dad". We're both good parents, but construction work is dead in this area and I can't support them right now.
I guess I'm asking for strategy advise. Go for fees now and keep living in poverty until the end, or put it all out on the table and go for fees and support, so I can get a place where I can have my girls with me. Appreciate anyone's thoughts. Thanx