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BPAL Madness!
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Why I may be somewhat withdrawn

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smallvoice

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As some of you might know, my sister decided to get a divorce this summer, a decision that floored me- but that I do support. She loves her kids and wouldn't do anything without a good reason. I've learned some of those reasons. They met in court yesterday to begin the proceedings- I don't know the precise terms, but they were supposed to present one another with papers or something. I had a therapy appointment yesterday. My husband was in the waiting room and my sister's husband walked into the building. He was carrying various folders and papers and whatnot, and greeted my husband, who probably wouldn't have noticed him otherwise. So therapy is hitting on some rough territory lately and I'm usually quite a wreck after them. We got into the car and my husband explains what he saw, suggesting that my sister's husband might've been meeting with a lawyer. I shook my head. He wasn't meeting with A lawyer. He was meeting with THE lawyer. I don't live in a huge metropolis, but if we had the equivalent of a hotshot media-whore sleazy big city lawyer, he would be it.

 

Last I heard, my sister was working with legal aid, or whoever does it for cheap, so I tried to get ahold of her all day to see if she knew. Last night, I finally did. She did know. It's ALL like something out of a soap opera. Apparently, she hadn't been aware that he'd had a lawyer until they both swept into court... because the lawyer wasn't even on the dockett. Huh? How does that even work? Is it legal to take a judge by surprise like that?

 

And I'm worried her lawyer isn't even competent.

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It wouldn't shock the judge at all. Often people retain attorneys in the middle of proceedings, once they realize they are in over their heads. (I practiced divorce law in Michigan for 7 years.) As long as your sister HAS an attorney, I wouldn't worry too much. All the legal aid attorneys I worked with were very competent. They get more experience because they handle more cases, and sometimes getting ahold of them can be harder, but in general I would not dismiss them as incompetent right off the bat. (One of my fiercest competitors was a legal aid attorney. I had MUCH respect for him.) If she is trying to represent herself though, STOP HER. Especially if she is dealing with Mr. Bigshot attorney, she will need an advocate who knows the ins and outs of the law so she doesn't get blindsided or bulldozed. The very messiest cases I ever handled were where people hired me AFTER the divorce was final to try and make things right because they had signed things they shouldn't have while representing themselves.

 

If you have specific questions, PM me. Divorce law varies by state, but the overarching issues remain the same everywhere.

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