The Ex Parte – 3 Lessons Learned from Divorce Court

In the beginning of the divorce, there were many incidents that triggered a fight or flight response in me which made me think it was an emergency.  For example, there was a temporary restraining order in place for a real emergency and a few days after (I don’t even know what to call him – Nameless) came knocking on my door and threatened to come in.  One day after church, Nameless broke into the residence by locksmith and took valuable items.  I called the police and filed an Ex Parte, because I felt violated.  Even though Nameless defied the restraining order, nothing happened for his violation.  It was an out of body experience.  All this was unfolding before my eyes and I just watched in disbelief.  Nameless attempted to break in several times after the theft by using a locksmith again, the court did nothing about it.  Nameless still had his license with the home address clearly displayed, so the locksmith had no idea that Nameless had no right to enter the home (one time I was home and opened the door on them – I was shielded by the storm door).  Both Nameless and the locksmith scampered away in embarrassment.  Nameless is really good at covering up his emotions when others are present.  I was really glad the locksmith was there to act as a witness.

In my naivety, I did not file a contempt hearing because I thought the violation was self-explanatory, there was a police report and if orders are broken I thought it was in direct rebellion against the court.  DUMB.  I did not have an attorney, so it did not matter.  In hindsight, if I had filed contempt it probably would not have mattered anyway, because I did not have an attorney.

1st Family Law Lesson: Divorce court does not operate according to what is right and wrong.  They assume everyone is lying and the court processes are leveraged to lengthen decisions as much as possible.

I did not hire an attorney, because I do not make enough money to hire an attorney.  Did I want an attorney?  Yes.  Did I interview attorneys to find one that I could afford?  Yes.  Did I find a great attorney?  Yes.  Did I hire her? No, because her retainer started at $10k upfront.  Did I eventually hire an attorney?  Yes.  Could I afford the cheap attorney that I hired? No.

2nd Family Law Lesson: Good attorneys like to win, if they cannot win they will not accept your case if they are ethical attorneys.  What is an attorney’s definition of winning?  Best asset division, best custody arrangement and deep pockets.

When I hired an attorney, there were zero Ex Parte hearings, mostly because my attorney advised against it, not because there was not a valid reason.  Luckily the attorney I did hire was somewhat ethical and he understood from reading the paperwork my position in the case.  Did I have to eventually self-represent anyway? Resounding YES!

3rd Family Law Lesson:  Once you have an attorney, you must use your attorney – NO EXCEPTIONS.  This rule makes it difficult for the average person to keep an attorney for very long, because the attorney must attend every hearing ($$$).  Plus, if you think the judge needs to hear or be alerted to something important, the attorney must file the paperwork for you (if the attorney doesn’t want to file the paperwork or has another pressing case the attorney will advise against it).

Nameless recently had his attorney file an Ex Parte.  It was not a valid Ex Parte reason; however, Nameless somehow got the ‘Granted’ checkbox checked.  I did not take my own advice from 6 Things A Divorce Attorney Won’t Tell You.  The Ex Parte is full of lessons for the one going pro se.  Remember, Lesson #1 Right & wrong do not matter in divorce court; Lesson #2 Good attorneys like to win; and, Lesson #3 Once you hire an attorney you must use your attorney.  Family law is the Wild West, do not expect anything from a broken system without checks & balances in place.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

Getting Divorced? Avoid Court or Wear a Gas Mask.

Family Law is truly the black eye of America.  It is a system created by lawyers to leverage domestic disputes for their advantage.  There is no one to hold the judge accountable for the judgments.  If both sides have lawyers or attorneys, they will consume all marital assets.  Their tactics, rhetoric and treatment requires a gas mask.  If you go pro se while the other person is abusive in nature, that person will use up almost all marital assets.  No matter what is done, if the relationship ends because one person is abusive and that person has enough funds to hire an attorney – that person will get their way no matter what.  When one person will not compromise and it is the same person that has filed and/or paid the most money while the other person is responsible by not spending beyond their means, one mistake going pro se will ALWAYS benefit the other person if there is no criminal record or criminal activity.

It is uncertain if things would be different if attorney representation was equal on both sides for my case.

Having an attorney secured financial support in my situation; however, that same attorney allowed the judge to impute income and administer below guideline child support.  Going pro se, the financial support may have been even less.  Shocked?!  It does not faze me anymore.

The only benefit of my current situation is that the abuser is in no way going to be awarded the marital home.

Through all this utter turmoil experienced, there is a silver lining.  There is no way that I will be forced to live under the same roof as the abuser.  Usually the abuser does not file for divorce, in my case the abuser did.  The abuser likes to maintain control and control is impossible without the victim under their watch usually; however, in my case, the abuser was a white-collar male who feared going to jail, because I would not turn a blind eye to his actions behind closed doors.  One time the abuser said to me, if you do not send out the Christmas cards, I will divorce you.  The following year he filed for divorce, but it was not over Christmas cards.

Hindsight is 20/20.  As a person who witnessed abuse and was subject to the abuse myself, videotaping the incidents would have been better than confronting the abuser hoping that the guilt would lead to changed behavior.  Confronting the abuser increased tension and pushed the abuser away preventing any real evidence collection while under the same roof.

Here’s the epiphany, someone who abuses another person either blames the victim or pardons their own guilt as justified.

An abuser cannot change.  They cannot change by extrinsic motivation or intrinsic motivation.  They will repeat the same mistakes, rituals and behavior in other relationships.  Some lessons are learned the hard way.  Do not learn the hard way like me.  If there is no abuse in your relationship go through mediation.  If there is no abuse in your relationship and you hire an attorney, by the end of it you will have a list of abusive interactions to add to the broken relationship as well.  Avoid going to court by filing for divorce first before your spouse (if divorce is truly your only option and your spouse is unpredictable).  Filing for divorce is one serious advantage of being the petitioner (see Divorce Strategy, Petitioner or Respondent).

If you are the respondent, convince the divorce filing spouse to seek mediation.  If you wait too long, the court attorney toxic gas will have already infiltrated all orifices of your spouse and there’s no way of reversing the contamination.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

 

6 Things a Divorce Attorney Won’t Tell You

If you can manage it, get through your divorce with as little family law industry personnel involved as possible.  Almost every person that works in the family law industry and even your friends will say, “you need an attorney!”  Newsflash, they don’t REALLY know and if they work in the industry, they have ulterior motives.  Your friends, family or co-workers only tell you, you need an attorney because it seems to make sense.  Initially you feel you are at a disadvantage if your estranged spouse has an attorney and you do not, if you’re working full-time and you have children you will probably have to get an attorney if the children are with you most the time; however, if you have a good support system and your work schedule is flexible, explore representing yourself or filing online.  If you find you must start talking with attorneys you need to be aware of these 6 topics that fly under the radar:

#1 The attorney will not tell you to go without an attorney, it conflicts with their livelihood.  An attorney knows the system and the divorce system is designed to make money. If you hire an attorney, you still use your time and energy to explain everything to your attorney.  Additionally, you must review all paperwork they prepare, because your signature is required on every form.  Whether you are the petitioner (the person who filed for the divorce) or the respondent (the person responding to the person who filed); an attorney will not grasp your position as much as you.  Every state has rules and regulations on how they do things, your divorce will follow those rules and regulations; you will not be the exception because you hired a good attorney.

#2 The attorney will not tell you they don’t care directly.  It’s unimaginable that people can become so calloused; however, they probably did not start out that way.  The system grooms people to become desensitized to your situation.  It’s only natural.  Family law people put on a caring façade to gain your trust (there are some exceptions, but few).  The more people they’ve worked with, the less caring they typically are.  There is no way they could face their work day without that hard shell, because to be good at what they do, they must manipulate the other side and manipulate you too.  Remember they are also charging you an arm and a leg at the same time whether you can afford it or not.  Married celebrities, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, discovered this late in the game according to Vanity Fair and finally decided to go with a private judge which minimizes attorney and media manipulation, plus keeps things private from the public.

#3 The attorney will not tell you your story DOESN’T matter to the court.  This is huge!  If you already have an attorney you are already somewhat familiar with the preparation that is required to file the paperwork or forms with the court.  The first declaration forms go to great lengths to set the backdrop behind the reasons for the divorce.  Hours upon hours are spent by you and your attorney to arrive at a reasonably true story.  If you don’t have a caring attorney, the attorney will input drama where needed and hyperbole to make the story more compelling so the judge finds it interesting to read.  What’s worse is that these lies are never refuted at the hearing.  The story is filed as fact and then the other person can submit their own declaration (link example is from California) refuting the lies, but there is no consensus.

#4 The attorney will not tell you the judge will make an order or decline making an order as they see fit regardless of your attorney’s performance or the damages that accrued in the relationship.  The judge sees numerous cases a day, you are just a number.  If the judge had a bad morning and you show emotion, 2 strikes against whatever you think is a fair compromise.  All the while, your attorney sits there helpless and you paid them to sit there helpless.  Every hearing has an objective set by the judge or opposing council, so if the situation that is rectified before the date on the court’s calendar you cannot replace that objective with something else.  The date is removed from calendar and if there’s another topic that needs to be addressed you or your attorney must file a motion to put it back on calendar.  What does this do?  It prolongs the divorce and keeps the legal tab open.

#5 The attorney will not tell you to always show up in court or the other side will have the advantage.  This is a common-sense scenario.  From the judge’s perspective if you didn’t take the time to appear in court you automatically have less authority and skin in the game even though you sent your attorney to represent you.  If you truly don’t care, this could work for you, but if you truly do care, always appear in court.

#6 If you live in a liberal state and have children, judges & attorneys do not follow “best interests of the child” doctrine.  Shocking I know!  Family law is like the Wild West.  There are very few absolutes and all kinds of grey area.  For the court to care about the children in an abusive situation, the spouse in question MUST have a criminal record and/or the abuse must be verified by a professional 3rd party.

Think twice before seeking an attorney to file for divorce.  If you loved your spouse at least for a moment during your marriage, save yourself the stress and heartache that comes along with the attorney representation package.  The judge in every divorce case bases their decision on previous case decisions and if the judge breaks the law and favors the other side unjustly you can appeal.  If you think your spouse will get an attorney, seek advice from an attorney, but talk to many, because if you go with a calloused one you’ll be in for a long haul.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

Welcome to FYI Divorce, real life divorce tips

Welcome to FYI Divorce, an unbiased resource that’s not tapping into the industry of divorce, but tapping into the heart of the matter; PEOPLE’s LIVES.

You’re reading this now, because you’re thinking about divorce, starting a divorce, going through a divorce or have already experienced the divorce process.  There are very few resources on divorce that are truly objective resources.   Almost every divorce online resource has the money strings attached, so the perspective of the article or website is skewed.  No longer, my friends!  Welcome to FYI Divorce, an unbiased resource that’s not tapping into the industry of divorce, but tapping into the heart of the matter; PEOPLE’s LIVES.  This is not a place to find legal advice.  This is a place to find the real deal; reveal what’s behind the divorce curtain for lack of a better analogy.

Hold onto your hats, because FYI Divorce will be taking you on a wild ride.  There will be insight garnered from personal experience (a perspective outside of family law), there will be interviews of divorcées, there will be interviews of industry workers and most of all there will be NO SUGARCOATING.  It’s time there is some real talk about what goes on in the courthouse and the courtroom and how the individuals’ experience can be drastically different depending on what state and county the divorce is filed.

There are many different types of divorce.  There are online divorces, uncontested divorces, contested divorces, only custody cases in non-marital situations, domestic violence divorces, irreconcilable differences divorces (which covers up the true reason for divorce), short term marriage divorces, long-term marriage divorces and the list goes on.  It’s time someone talks about the experience that unravels once you enter this tangled web of family law.  DO NOT ENTER the divorce lane without reading FYI Divorce first.

If divorce was simple, there would be no need for FYI Divorce.  Divorce is complicated.  The state government and attorneys make it even more complicated.  It’s not like you can file all the necessary paperwork with or without an attorney and go on your merry way as a singleton.  Once you go down this expensive path of family law there is no U-turn.  Do I have your attention?  Your life matters.  Family law does not consider your life.  Family law does not care about you, your family or even your kids.  Family law is there to accept your dollars, shuffle paperwork and do it all over again the next day.  There are those rare few in family law that do want to have a positive impact in the industry, but those people are extremely scarce and busy; good word travels fast.  Stay tuned for more real talk on divorce tips and family law.