Odd Developments; Or, Talking To Lawyers, Part III

This is my third (and hopefully final) installment in my series of posts that dealing with interactions with attorneys. Not that I have any disrespect for attorneys; quite the contrary: they perform a very valuable and important service. However, I think my life would probably be immeasurably better if I had no need for them right now.

As I wrote about before, my wife’s original dissolution petition contained some anomalies, not least of which being that there were two pages that somehow went missing. My response documented this fact, and took issue with other things (mainly omissions or misrepresentations of fact). I was told at that time that it could have just been an “honest mistake,” and that my wife could just file an amended petition.

Well, that’s exactly what she did, with a twist — or two. I went online to check that the forms I’d filed (just procedural stuff) had been processed by the court, and discovered that an amended petition had been submitted. This was a surprise. So, I went down to the courthouse tomorrow to pull the record and get a copy of the amended pleadings. Apparently in response to my response, she filed this new petition, and changed a bunch of information. This was very, very fishy.

So, I booked a session with an attorney tonight, just a quick, pro-bono consult. The lawyer I spoke with mainly litigates corporate law cases, but used to do a lot of family law cases; like other lawyers at this legal “clinic,” he volunteers his time. (Since I do a lot of volunteer work myself, I respect this tremendously.) He looked over my sheaf of documents, and examined my wife’s pleadings. His first reaction was, “oh, man, this is a mess.” He quickly pointed out that, aside from the fact that there was considerable disarray and other problems with the documents my wife had drawn up — including the new ones — she had also violated court rules. You see, she cannot just file an amended petition. Her original had already been served and responded to, and so now a whole new set of procedural rules applies, and with good reason. You can’t exactly sue someone, and once the case is entered into the records, just change the case at will. There are procedures to be followed.

The procedure she failed to follow was simple. First, she was supposed to draft an amended petition and leave it unsigned. Then, she was supposed to either contact me to get written permission to file it (I would have declined, of course), or to have motioned the court to submit the amended petition. That unsigned draft would have to have been submitted for a judge to review, approved, and then submitted to the clerk. Then, I would have to be served, and then given 10 days to respond. None of that happened. This means that this amended petition is bogus and will be struck from the record.

The attorney began to strategize, saying, “so, what could we do here…” He said that I could motion the court to strike this new petition, “but that would just annoy her.” Heh, heh… “Or, you could just ignore it, and do nothing.” That’s what I’m doing. Ignoring it, and doing nothing. She asked for certain types of relief that he felt were almost certain to be rejected by any judge, even if procedure had been filed. He said he doubted she could “get it together” enough to actually file for the kinds of relief she was requesting, and even if she did, she probably would not be successful. Note that these were new things she was trying to get into her pleadings. That just won’t fly.

I left with a lighter conscience. I’ll sleep well tonight.

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5 thoughts on “Odd Developments; Or, Talking To Lawyers, Part III”

  1. Rodion
    I Can undesrtand so well what you are going through. I am not as persistent as you are, and I become a completely new person (and I believe a better one) and so has my husband (in his case the change was for the worse). I undesrtand that he is being manipulated big time and he is very very sick. Might be temporary might be forever. Not important. It is his life and he made his own choices that he will soon or later regret. I will just leave my own and be happy. Every day is a new day and there are so many things to be thankful in life. Focus on those and let hings go with your wife. My be you are meant to be together, may be you are not. The important thing is that you become and are a great person. And thank every day for the great things ahead.

  2. Speaking from (unfortunate) experience in family/divorce court, do not assume anything.

    Your lawyer should not assume anything, either. As much as you may not want to, I advise you to be proactive. Protect yourself, even if it feels horrible to take that stance.

    I have had judges make decisions against me that were un-be-lievable. One time, my lawyer asked the judge if he had even read the petition, and he said, “No, I didn’t bother. I’m pretty sure I know what it says.” Then he made his ruling based on how my (now “ex”) husband and I looked! He said, “These two look like they make about the same amount of money, so I’m going to deny her request for more child support.” My ex was making $250,000/year, and I was making $30,000/year.

    This is not a situation for “doubts,” “probably’s” or “almost certain’s.” I wish the courts took feelings into account, but they don’t. Judges in family/divorce court often do not rule logically. (They also tend to be judges that have been demoted from other court posts.)

    Good luck to you.

  3. Mary, we are a long way from any actions needing to be taken. There’s nothing on the calendar until mid-July, and what happens then is just procedural and something my wife needs to initiate. There could be a hearing about procedural documents in mid-August, and I could get her amended petition struck at that point. The trial week (should things ever progress that far) is not until next year; the case would have to get referred to mediation, and that would probably not even happen until next year at this point. This lawyer was speaking from direct experience of working with a lot of these judges, and while the scenario you mention is possible, he painted a pretty different picture than the one you experienced. The judge has already been assigned, and is a Superior Court judge for whom (oddly enough) I voted last year.

    My wife and I have no kids, and even if she wanted everything I have — and got it — I’d still be okay. I am very mindful of the “your money or your marriage” situation, and I know financially what I’d need to make it; I can pretty much assure myself of that right now, and so I don’t have a lot of fears about it. Were that to change in future, then I would certainly take measures to protect myself. My wife is not asking for anything financially, and she cannot legally change any of that at this point without going through mediation.

    1. Anything is possible once legal action has begun — things one would never imagine, even using an experienced attorney. I’m glad you feel secure, though.

      1. Basically, she cannot ruin me, no matter what. And, I take my hope from the fact that it is the affair that is (almost certainly) driving everything. I think it’s a lot worse to be her than it is to be me right now. That said, it’s not a good place to be; I’d rather that we both be in a good place together, or at least in some place together.

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