Pro Se litigation

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Pro Se litigation

Postby TheReaper » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:26 am

I know this is a forum hosted by a law firm and I expect to get flamed.

I initially had an attorney and did not feel it was right to be charged more than $5,000 just to sign the jacket. I terminated their services and went at this on my own.

Background: My former wife and I divorced back in 2001. She has reopened the issued, asked for an increase and desires to move out of the state to live with her husband of 1 month.

Being a sensible person, I felt competent enough to negotiate a settlement with her attorney. We have reached an agreement on almost all issues. My problem is that he is not communicating with me attorney to attorney (I know I'm not an attorney, but he should be according with me as opposing counsel according to local rules of conduct.). He communicates by sending me a letter and if I don't agree with it, he will punish (my words) me by submitting the document asking that I be responsible for all fees. There is no negotiating. He tells me and I like it or lump it. Further, I have shared my calendar with opposing counsel and he is planning on submitting motions while I am out of the country. Can he do this?
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby BartSimpson » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:28 am

While the forum is sponsored by a law firm, we are not lawyers. We are Dads just like you.

Yes, opposing counsel is just giddy that you are in pro per, and can stick it to you procedurally because You are not a lawyer. His tactics are already working as you are completely intimidated.

So you will lose this matter, hands down, because you are too cheap to pay for the professional services you require. You suggest you are sensible, how much study have you made of the local rules of civil procedure?

Which state are you in, and what are the specifics of the move? When was the last time the child support was modified? Does your ex-wife work? What are the kids ages?
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby TheReaper » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:02 am

Thanks Bart. Not too cheap, just wasted $6,000 and not trusting. I should state that my ex has lived with our daughter out of state for 5 years without an order. I didn't argue about her leaving as I got to spend school breaks and summers. Being out of state is not really an issue. She basically moved back to town and filed legal action 5 months later. The main thing she was looking for was an increase in support. However, we are in TN and now we have to file a Perm. Parenting Plan. Her attorney told me not to nit-pick and I am not. I talked to him for 10 minutes regarding the plan and told him what I would like. I have sent him my PPP according to the local rules and TN rules of civil procedure. I come from a law enforcement background and have been reading / interpreting / applying / enforcing for 20 years.

I really don't mind much of their demands and I am reasonably making concessions. However, her counsel is noe taking advantage and asking that I sign documents or suffer the financial consequences.

Our daughter is 14 and the support has never been modified. According to the state CS worksheet, the ex is entitled to a $167 a month increase. I am fine with that. However, I have asked that she cover half of the travel expenses related to < parenting time > as they will be out of state. He is wanting me to cover 100%. I then told him if we do that, the CS modification would actually decrease his clients monthly amount. The sad thing is, my ex and I discussed the case and we agreed to settle. She even sent an email to him and ask that he terminate the proceedings and just settle. He called her and said, "but you can get more". He is essentially dragging this out and creating documents, which cost her attorney fees. I want to settle this debacle as quickly as possible, but I don't want opposing counsel to take advantage. I lost the temp support hearing based on an error of my own and I am fine with that. I gave her counsel a 3 hour fight, but got stuck with $900 in his fees. It was worth it to have the ex squirming on the stand and looking worse a fool than me. It was worth the judge, bailiffs and her own attorney tell her to be quiet 12+ times. It was worth standing there in open court and explaining her greed and bad decisions without her being able to say a word.

I'm sure I pissed off opposing counsel by raising 15 objections in 3 hours, sustaining 10. I have tried to prep myself for days. I have taken advantage of the law library at the courthouse and read 100s of legal documents, decisions and similar cases online. I am fortunate that I have a job where I can make my own hours.

Is there a way to file a temporary injunction that would issue a stay against opposing counsel presenting documents in court without my presence as Pro Se Counsel? He basically wants to enter the order from the divorce referee, which I have no problem signing. However, he also slid in the line that I be responsible for all costs associated with this action. I think his client should pay all costs, but I am willing to go 1/2.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby BartSimpson » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:13 am

OK. Nothing you said changes what I assert. Opposing counsel is going to bury you with procedure and your own mistakes. He already has.

If you are so smart about the law, and how legal things work, why could you not manage your attorney (he was your employee) and avoid wasting $6000?

Your plan to trade "child support" for "travel expenses" is seriously flawed. Some things in family law are carved in stone, even a layman knows that.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby defaultuser » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:20 am

Its a common mistake, and one I certainly made to not keep a short leash on your attorney. My attorney does not do anything without my permission and go ahead. This is great because I know what to expect in regards to fees, but also in the end result.

For example, I'm the one saying, subpoena this, and file a motion for that, not her. She advises me on things and I'm informed enough to make decisions based on her legal advise.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby TheReaper » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:23 am

I get your point Bart.

Regarding the 6k, I have lodged a complaint with her firm first and they have offered an unspecified credit. I have email comms with terminated counsel asking her to settle and stop raising arguments and trying to make the ex "jump through hoops" (which equals billed hours for my terminated attorney). She wa unmanageable, hence termination of services.
Last edited by TheReaper on Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby TheReaper » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:27 am

I agree D-user. I told my attorney the same. She sent me a letter (charged me $200 for said letter) stating that I was not allowing her to represent me properly and she would not be responsible for any outcome based on me asking her to notify me before filing or creating documents.

This action is not being argued or challenged. My ex and came to an agreement and it is her counsel delaying and running up costs. He is now using my time out of town to sneak in documents that I will later have to file a challenge.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby defaultuser » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:35 am

TheReaper wrote:I told my attorney the same. She sent me a letter (charged me $200 for said letter) stating that I was not allowing her to represent me properly and she would not be responsible for any outcome based on me asking her to notify me before filing or creating documents.

This is a huge red flag for me. This is not my first time at the big show, so I've got a method. Every time we have a hearing, I discuss the outcome with my attorney and we agree on next steps. Then, we each have our to-do lists to take care of. When the to-do lists are completed, both her and mine, we have another meeting or phone call to discuss next steps. It works very well.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby TheReaper » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:44 am

I think the firm may be understanding of my complaint. They are offering a credit, but did not want to state the amount as they did not want to "offend" if I had a larger amount in mind. My final bill was $1100 just to withdraw from the case. Hahahaha. Again, this attorney has not stepped one foot in the courtroom on my behalf. She sent a junior attorney to sign the jacket and withdraw. The first flag really came up when she billed $500 to complete a parenting plan without my permission. I had already filled out this fillin the blank form for free. In fact, mine was better prepared than the attorney's. She did the work on a Sunday and I feel it was to meet her billed hours for the week. BTW, it took me 30 minutes to complete the same plan she charged me 1.6 hours to complete.
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Re: Pro Se litigation

Postby defaultuser » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:46 am

Does the firm have another attorney that you can apply the credit to?

Sounds like you need to stay as far away from that one as possible.
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