Do I really need a lawyer? - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Do I really need a lawyer?

I have no income right now. I can't work due to disability but my case hasn't come up yet and it could theoretically be months to years before I get SSD. So I simply can't afford a lawyer. I have already checked around and there is no free legal counsel in my area.

I can probably handle filling out the paperwork myself. I'll have to come up with the money for filling fees and the process server. Of course first I'll have to figure out where he lives. Which could take a while especially if he's out of country. At which point I may have to simply give up until I find a way to come up with several thousand dollars which is what I'm told an international divorce costs.

The main thing I'm wondering is whether people think I'm asking too much from him and just guaranteeing that he'll fight me. This is what I want:

1. Full financial disclosure from all the time we haven't been together.
2. State minimum child support paid in arrears going back 5 years if possible.
3. A reasonable amount of alimony just until my disability case gets settled or I somehow manage to go back to work.
4. A percentage of his 401k from the time of our marriage until the time we separated which is only 9 years.
5. Enough money to make a downpayment on a decent used car. He promised to replace my old car (a 1996) when it finally died but he didn't follow through and my dad ended up buying me another car. Since we split my H has had 3 brand new cars AND he's bought his mother one as well. I think he owes me this. Especially since I put him through grad school at the expense of my own graduate degree.
6. I want him to pay for all my son's medical bills including for him to get braces which we've been told he needs sooner rather than later.
7. I want him to make COBRA copays to keep me o his health insurance as long as legally possible which I believe is 2 years.
8. I want a legal guarantee that he won't touch my son's trust fund from my FIL, which my husband is executor on.
9. I want 100% physical and legal custody. Visitation only at times agreed on by me in advance, and only with a supervisor my son is comfortable with, since he hasn't seen his father in 6 years now. I can't imagine he'll fight me on this.
10. I want my stuff back. He emptied our house into his parents garage while I was in the hospital 13 years ago and I want the stuff that was mine. All he ever let me take was my clothes and some of my books. There are some pieces of antique furniture that belonged to my grandparents that I want back if he hasn't sold them already.
11. I want it in writing that he won't let his mother anywhere near our son if he ever does get unsupervised visitation. This is a woman who backhanded a 4 year old child across the room because he interrupted her soaps.
12. Lastly I want him to agree that my parents get full custody of our son is anything should happen to me while he is still a minor. He should not have to give up the only home he's ever known to go live with a father who hasn't bothered to communicate with him in over 6 years and who is ashamed of him because he is on the autism spectrum. Especially since I'm pretty sure my H would just send him off to boarding school to get him out of the way.

Thoughts? Am I asking too much to be able to do this without a lawyer? Do I need a lawyer just to get the wording right, or can I get that from a paralegal?

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 05:59 PM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellomynameis View Post
I have no income right now. I can't work due to disability but my case hasn't come up yet and it could theoretically be months to years before I get SSD. So I simply can't afford a lawyer. I have already checked around and there is no free legal counsel in my area.

I can probably handle filling out the paperwork myself. I'll have to come up with the money for filling fees and the process server. Of course first I'll have to figure out where he lives. Which could take a while especially if he's out of country. At which point I may have to simply give up until I find a way to come up with several thousand dollars which is what I'm told an international divorce costs.

The main thing I'm wondering is whether people think I'm asking too much from him and just guaranteeing that he'll fight me. This is what I want:

1. Full financial disclosure from all the time we haven't been together.
2. State minimum child support paid in arrears going back 5 years if possible.
3. A reasonable amount of alimony just until my disability case gets settled or I somehow manage to go back to work.
4. A percentage of his 401k from the time of our marriage until the time we separated which is only 9 years.
5. Enough money to make a downpayment on a decent used car. He promised to replace my old car (a 1996) when it finally died but he didn't follow through and my dad ended up buying me another car. Since we split my H has had 3 brand new cars AND he's bought his mother one as well. I think he owes me this. Especially since I put him through grad school at the expense of my own graduate degree.
6. I want him to pay for all my son's medical bills including for him to get braces which we've been told he needs sooner rather than later.
7. I want him to make COBRA copays to keep me o his health insurance as long as legally possible which I believe is 2 years.
8. I want a legal guarantee that he won't touch my son's trust fund from my FIL, which my husband is executor on.
9. I want 100% physical and legal custody. Visitation only at times agreed on by me in advance, and only with a supervisor my son is comfortable with, since he hasn't seen his father in 6 years now. I can't imagine he'll fight me on this.
10. I want my stuff back. He emptied our house into his parents garage while I was in the hospital 13 years ago and I want the stuff that was mine. All he ever let me take was my clothes and some of my books. There are some pieces of antique furniture that belonged to my grandparents that I want back if he hasn't sold them already.
11. I want it in writing that he won't let his mother anywhere near our son if he ever does get unsupervised visitation. This is a woman who backhanded a 4 year old child across the room because he interrupted her soaps.
12. Lastly I want him to agree that my parents get full custody of our son is anything should happen to me while he is still a minor. He should not have to give up the only home he's ever known to go live with a father who hasn't bothered to communicate with him in over 6 years and who is ashamed of him because he is on the autism spectrum. Especially since I'm pretty sure my H would just send him off to boarding school to get him out of the way.

Thoughts? Am I asking too much to be able to do this without a lawyer? Do I need a lawyer just to get the wording right, or can I get that from a paralegal?
For legal applications based on only ourselves, I recommend becoming knowledgeable and doing it yourself. However, for litigation against another person, especially someone like your ex-husband, I do think that you'll need a lawyer. Use a local lawyer you can meet in person who agrees to get paid after you receive a settlement from your ex.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

It has also been suggested to me that I start without a lawyer and only hire one when and if he contests it. Would this be a good way to just get the process going?
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 06:23 PM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

You're still married, right? Are there any joint accounts or any joint assets you can sell? Any family that could help?

If you could count on him to be mature and cooperative, maybe you could do this pro se. But in your case it sounds pretty risky.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 01:59 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Confused by your other thread. Is your husband paying child support ? Your other thread said he was.

Is he located in Japan? Does he work for an international company? If you have a court order they will honor it. My old employer did and read the riot act to the employee about bringing his personal life into the company. My brothers company (Korean) did the same.

Are you legally separated? I don't think NY has legal separation which means spousal support is owed for entire marriage.

NY state offers a lot of support. Have you made any effort to contact them?

Do you have the paper work from your attempt to use mediation?

Lawyers are dieing for work. There are none willing to work with you? How hard are you trying?

Your husband is waiting for you to die. Screw him, nail him to the wall!!!

How to deal with an unrepentant spouse: an Irish person can tell a person to go to hell and have them so excited at the prospect they demand to know when, where the train is leaving and how to get a ticket. Then offer them a loan to get the ticket and a ride to the train station. Be Irish
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 03:59 AM
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Cool Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

If perchance you live in or nearby a college town or a county that has a university with a law school, please consult with that institution to see if they do, in fact, have free legal aid and assistance.

A lot of them do, as they'll offer help that is provided by some of its senior students who are usually supervised by their professors.

The only thing that you may be required to spring for are court filing fees.

"To love another person is to see the face of God!" - Jean Valjean from Les Miserables

My Story! http://talkaboutmarriage.com/going-t...andonment.html
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 07:34 PM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

A couple of thoughts. First, yes you need a lawyer in some capacity. Most will give you a free consultation of 15 to 30 minutes where you can get a lot of questions answered. Second, you can do a lot of this yourself, but you do need some good legal advice. Even if you use a lawyer for consultations, you can still do the footwork and filing yourself, saving a lot of $$. Third, it may be possible to get your stbxh to pay your legal bills. Since he apparently has a good income and you do not, the court may order him to pay some or all of your legal bills. This is something to ask a lawyer in your free consultation. Fourth, go for everything you are legally and rightfully entitled to. That furniture etc you definitely should get. The trust for your son is a problem because he has full legal control over the money as trustee. His father would have to change the trust to put limitations in there on what the money can be used for. Trusts can be brought to court for not following what is specified, so if you were to know he was doing something not allowed by the trust, you could take him to court. I think this is a tough one but a lawyer could give you some better ideas on how to get it done the way you want.

Things like the car and the COBRA are negotiating points. Those would probably fall under alimony and would be part of it in some way. Given the circumstances I think you push for absolutely everything the law might allow you to get. Do research on NY alimony laws. Unless you are legally separated with a written agreement, you may have more years of marriage to claim towards alimony.

I think the 401k request is reasonable, as is the full financial disclosure. By law he probably has to provide that disclosure to you during the divorce.

As far as serving him, in my state it can be done by the petitioner (you). You don't have to pay someone to do it. In my case since it is a cooperative divorce it was very simple. If your stbxh is truly overseas idk how that works for service. You may have a case for abandonment and might get some form of uncontested divorce without him even being there. Another question to ask a lawyer about.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 08:38 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

My thoughts: Full financial disclosure is required. If you ask for it and don't get it, it may be fraud.

You only get back child support if there is an existing order/agreement about CS. If there is neither and you haven't gotten any financial support for the kids, you allege abandonment.

You should get spousal support, and COBRA help. But what you do with the money is up to you.

Add up everything accumulated during the marriage, including any increase in value of pre-owned property, split it in half, and that's what you start for a property settlement. Your inability to work or generate more money from assets would then justify an uneven property distribution.

In youth it was a way I had, to do my best to please, And change, with every passing lad to suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know, and do the things I do; And if you do not like me so, To hell, my love, with you! --Dorothy Parker
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Yes, I do get child support. But HE isn't paying it, his mother is. We have a verbal agreement that she will pay it as long as I agree to stay out of his life. Unfortunately she is in the early stages of dementia and she has started forgetting to pay. She always takes care of it when I tell her she missed a month but she missed December and I haven't been able to get in touch with her because her phone has been disconnected. I don't have a number for him.

We have no physical assets. He let our house go into foreclosure after he moved out. I have an old car, he has a new one. Even his beloved motorcycle is 13 years old now. He may have been put on his parents' deed after his dad died but I would never go after his parents house, especially when I stand to jointly inherit (with my sister) 2 properties probably within the next 10-20 years. Neither of which has much value but at least give me a place to live.

I have called every divorce and family court lawyer in my county. The mediator I was working with died last summer. There is no paperwork because H never showed up for the appt so the process was never started. The quotes I am getting are astronomical because H is outside the country. Just having him served could cost over $1000. I dont have $1000 to my name right now and probably wont until I get my tax refund. Legal aid wont take my case either, for the same reason.

I did go to the county/state child services office to see if they could help me. They informed me that I have to have a valid address for them to go after him for me. Otherwise I have to pay to locate him first - back to spending money I don't have.

I guess I probably do need a lawyer. Especially since I can't trust him not to play dirty. He's already threatened once to have me declared an unfit mother due to my health issues. Which means I'm just going to continue being married to him because I am NOT going to ask my retired, semi-disabled father to pay my legal fees. He's already practically supporting us. Considering I'm told it could take 2+ years to settle my disability case, I'm probably going to have to go back to work whether my drs think I should or not. Which means asking my dad to play chauffer for me since my dr pulled my drivers license. I really hate this. But I have now taken the first steps and picked up the paperwork and my aunt who works at the county courthouse is going to help me with it. Then the big issue will be getting him served. At that point I will probably be involving a lawyer.

JohnA - he legally lives at his mother's house in NY. In actuality, he spends about 8 months a year in Japan and splits the rest between the US, Australia and Europe. He works for one of the smaller subsidiaries of one of the biggest companies in the world.

The road goes ever ever on, down from the door where it began... JRR Tolkien
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 10:19 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellomynameis View Post
Yes, I do get child support. But HE isn't paying it, his mother is. We have a verbal agreement that she will pay it as long as I agree to stay out of his life. Unfortunately she is in the early stages of dementia and she has started forgetting to pay. She always takes care of it when I tell her she missed a month but she missed December and I haven't been able to get in touch with her because her phone has been disconnected. I don't have a number for him.

We have no physical assets. He let our house go into foreclosure after he moved out. I have an old car, he has a new one. Even his beloved motorcycle is 13 years old now. He may have been put on his parents' deed after his dad died but I would never go after his parents house, especially when I stand to jointly inherit (with my sister) 2 properties probably within the next 10-20 years. Neither of which has much value but at least give me a place to live.

I have called every divorce and family court lawyer in my county. The mediator I was working with died last summer. There is no paperwork because H never showed up for the appt so the process was never started. The quotes I am getting are astronomical because H is outside the country. Just having him served could cost over $1000. I dont have $1000 to my name right now and probably wont until I get my tax refund. Legal aid wont take my case either, for the same reason.

I did go to the county/state child services office to see if they could help me. They informed me that I have to have a valid address for them to go after him for me. Otherwise I have to pay to locate him first - back to spending money I don't have.

I guess I probably do need a lawyer. Especially since I can't trust him not to play dirty. He's already threatened once to have me declared an unfit mother due to my health issues. Which means I'm just going to continue being married to him because I am NOT going to ask my retired, semi-disabled father to pay my legal fees. He's already practically supporting us. Considering I'm told it could take 2+ years to settle my disability case, I'm probably going to have to go back to work whether my drs think I should or not. Which means asking my dad to play chauffer for me since my dr pulled my drivers license. I really hate this. But I have now taken the first steps and picked up the paperwork and my aunt who works at the county courthouse is going to help me with it. Then the big issue will be getting him served. At that point I will probably be involving a lawyer.

JohnA - he legally lives at his mother's house in NY. In actuality, he spends about 8 months a year in Japan and splits the rest between the US, Australia and Europe. He works for one of the smaller subsidiaries of one of the biggest companies in the world.
Verbal agreements about child support aren't enforceable, so it doesn't really matter than mom verbally agreed to pay.

If his legal residence is his mom's house, have Social services serve him there, its often called "nail and mail"


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 08:03 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Your situation is rather complex. You need to file for what you want and if you think you can draw this all up on your own, go for it but if it gets ugly you need to hire an attorney. It doesn't sound like he wants the marriage and his mother is paying support to keep you away so she is showing some compassion for the child and you at least to give the support. However, you need to have this in a form of a court Order. Let me tell you too that a court order can be broken so let me explain what happens. Let's say a judge orders your STBX to pay$_______ in child support and he decides he isn't going to do it. You can go after him legally but it will cost you to hire an attorney. He can choose to not go to court as there will be a court date set if he is not paying and litigation is sought. The court then goes thru a whole process of trying to get him into court. Meantime he could be fighting this with his own attorney. If you get into something like this it could be months of games. It took the state I lived in 7 YEARS to catch up to my ex who was dodging paying support. he had representation on his end telling him how to dodge it and he was pretty darn successful. I learned I could not depend on him.

What can you do to earn a living with your disability? You might need to look at those options? Can you move in with family to off-set costs? Are you receiving SS, disability or state benefits? Also something to look into.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 10:49 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Normally I would suggest doing what I planned to do with my husband (before we reconciled)- I got everything typed up, I had he and I sign with a notary. The plan was to get a mediator from there and it cost very little because all our ducks were in a row. Singe I got the property stuff out of the way before things got emotional it was pretty cut and dry. The only thing is if you "show your hand" so to speak he will begin to develop an attack strategy. I think the only thing you can do in this situation is to retain an attorney on the agreement that he will get paid after the settlement. You can probably even ask for legal fees in your settlement since he may have abandoned and dodged you. It left you no choice but to hire an attorney.

Good luck to you. This is a tough situation and you are going to need lots of energy. Hugs!
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2017, 01:12 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

Are you really sure about not having access to free legal services? I know someone working in legal aid services in New York, not too far from you, and it is my understanding that there are many programs that serve rural areas. I did a quick search and found this website with lots of links:
The Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-28-2017, 01:32 AM
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Re: Do I really need a lawyer?

I searched on Amazon for "social security disability". It came up with quite a few books that walk a person through the application process. You might want to start with one or two of the books.


Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting & Keeping Your Benefits
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