He got a DUI. He was a felon, having been convicted of an offense involving a firearm. He was frequently intoxicated in front of the children, even during periods when Elizabeth entrusted the children to his care in her absence. Especially when he was drunk, Preston would become angry and aggressive. While he was never violent towards the children. Elizabeth often had to hide bruises under heavy makeup. And almost every night, he would belittle and demean Elizabeth in their presence. Not only did Elizabeth worry that the children were learning this horrible behavior from Preston, but she dreaded the day when he would turn his anger towards them.
Already, they were frightened and uncomfortable to be alone in his presence without Elizabeth. Although Elizabeth had been the primary caregiver for the two young children since their births, and her job enabled her to work primarily from home, she often had to travel overnight, leaving the children alone with their father. Although she was extremely nervous about him watching the children overnight in her absence, overnight travel was absolutely necessary for her to work in her field in Florida.
However, travel was not necessary in New Jersey since it was the United States hub for the pharmaceutical industry. Elizabeth also had family in New Jersey, so she knew that getting a job there was her key to escaping her marriage with her children. Elizabeth did not trust Preston, and for good reason. When Elizabeth inquired as to where the money had gone, Preston informed her that he had deposited it in a bank overseas because he did not want her to waste the money on lawyers. Not surprisingly, once the parties separated, Preston acquired a new residence, as well as furnishings and belongings, despite being unemployed.
Preston had also received a substantial severance package from his former employer during the course of the marriage. Elizabeth had no knowledge as to the contents of this package, and Preston never provided her with access to information about it even when the judge ordered that he do so during the divorce.
Although she did look for a new position in Florida to keep her options open, she was unable to find other suitable employment in Florida. Actually, she did find one position in Florida, but it required her to travel significantly, and Preston refused to watch the children overnight. He came on to one of the younger teachers and then yelled at another teacher who scolded him for acting improperly. Elizabeth was humiliated, and the children were asked not to return.
The parties initially agreed that she should take the children with her to New Jersey so that she could continue her employment and be near her family. In fact, her relocation to New Jersey was initially suggested by Preston. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, Preston began consulting with a divorce attorney. Once his attorney advised him that he could be required to pay child support, despite agreement otherwise with Elizabeth, he began to object to her move. Nevertheless, the wheels were already in motion, and Elizabeth, knowing that this was her only way out, moved with the children to New Jersey.
On moving day, Preston petitioned for dissolution of marriage and served Elizabeth after she had relocated. Bolton made her plans, Mr. Bolton seemed to be on board with her moving with the children. Bolton, you are clearly trying to scare Mrs. You asked for custody, which you have every right to do, but in my opinion, you were doing it to just intimidate her. You petitioned for divorce on the day that she moved after you seemed to be in agreement with her relocation. According to Mrs. Bolton, whose testimony I find to be more credible, you even coerced her so, if she asked for child support, she would have no childcare and could not work in her field, therefore not being able to make enough money to support the family.
Therefore, I am going to allow her to temporarily relocate with the children to New Jersey, and I hope that you can all work out the final arrangement. In addition to shelter, food, daycare, and clothing, Elizabeth also provided health insurance for the children and paid the full amount of any uncovered medical expenses for them. She also provided the funds for any necessary daycare. Elizabeth was forced to rely on the kindness of her parents, who provided her and the children a place to live at a reduced rental rate. However, her income alone was still not enough to provide for the children.
The parties mediated, and Preston continued his abuse and coercion of Elizabeth. She was scared, combined with the fact that she was dealing with helping her children adjust to a new environment and dealing with the normal depressed feelings that go along with getting divorced and living with a verbally and emotionally abusive alcoholic for six years. Elizabeth was under duress and blackmailed by Preston when she negotiated and signed the agreement.
Unbeknownst to the attorneys or mediator, Preston was sending intimidating texts to Elizabeth during the mediation. No judge would give the kids to such a slut. I can disappear easily. I have family and friends all over the world who would help me. Elizabeth continued to ignore the texts, but she was rattled.
He continued: You whined that I abused you before, but just wait. Is that what you want?
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As a long-time victim of abuse, Elizabeth was easily convinced that Preston would make good on his threats. Because of this intimidation, Elizabeth felt forced to enter into an agreement wherein she waived child support completely. It also provided that, in the event that she ever sought such support, Preston would be entitled to alimony from her. I tried and I tried to convince her that she should not enter into such an agreement, but ultimately, it was her agreement to make.
Mind you, this was before texting was as common as it is today, and it never even crossed my mind that he could be threatening her from across the room. At the final hearing, the judge who was already cognizant of the potential of Preston to intimidate Elizabeth, refused to approve the agreement: I cannot sign this final judgment. He proposed that Elizabeth would pay him bridge-the-gap alimony, in payments exactly equaling the child support payments to which she would have been entitled, until the younger child turned eighteen.
Elizabeth refused to execute the amendment, and Preston sought to compel her to do so. The issue of alimony was included in the agreement only to make the child support waiver acceptable. Based on their salary history, education, and the length of the marriage, alimony was not warranted at all. Preston had argued that he had a brain injury that would make it impossible for him to earn what he used to earn. But he soon did. And Preston could not get a doctor to document his alleged brain injury.
In fact, he was having problems at work due to his attitude and the way he talked to people prior to the surgery he claimed gave him a brain injury. Elizabeth was not aware of this money until the hearing when he admitted to it, since he had not contributed any of this money to their household. Preston had also told Elizabeth that his inability to get a decent paying job after he was laid off from IBM was probably due to his legal problems the DUI and felony arrest.
Additionally, there was no basis in fact for an award of bridge-the-gap alimony to Preston, especially one to last for fifteen years. Bridge-the-gap alimony was intended only for short-term assistance, and should not be awarded for more than two years duration; it was intended to be used for legitimate short-term needs, such as to meet basic living requirement, not to make the waiver of child support by the other party acceptable to the court.
The two issues were therefore inextricably interrelated. Preston had relocated to New Jersey, and the visitation providing for the parents living a thousand miles apart was therefore inadequate. She was required to switch jobs because she was about to be placed on furlough again which would mean half the pay due to no work and, as a single mother, she needed to travel less.
Also, since her new position required full time hours, her travel expenses to bring the children to see their father were more than what was expected when the parties mediated. She could no longer work from Florida, so she was forced to buy an additional round trip ticket so she could go home and work while the children were visiting Preston.
The court found that Preston did coerce Elizabeth into entering into the original agreement and that she did not enter into that agreement freely and voluntarily. The judge ordered: The original agreement that I refused to enter as the final judgment is set aside due to Mr. Bolton during mediation. He sent her intimidating texts during the mediation and coerced her throughout the process.
She now refuses, as she should, to sign Mr. Therefore, I order that you attend a final evidentiary hearing so that I can determine what the final judgment should be. Preston finally got the point. Just two days before the final evidentiary hearing, he agreed to an agreement whereby neither paid alimony to the other party, Elizabeth had a vast majority of the timesharing, and child support was pursuant to the guidelines.
The judge happily entered this agreement. Elizabeth has been living happily in New Jersey with her children ever since. Preston rarely visits, and when he does, he does not stay long. Although Elizabeth is sad that the children do not have a constant presence in their lives, she is relieved that she was able to wrest them from the hands of her abuser.
Who the heck wants his personal information splashed all over the front page of the town newspaper? A matronly, but petite Flemish woman with a heavy accent, a snaggletooth, and the ripe scent of body odor timidly entered our offices. Louise eventually retained our firm to represent her in her divorce. In addition, we assisted her with the petition for a domestic violence injunction that her husband had filed against her.
This sweet, middle-aged woman had two concerns. One was her college-aged son, Liam, and the other, the children for whom she cared in her home-based daycare.
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When her husband, Lars, a tall, brutish man, learned she planned to divorce him, he called the police, claiming she had punched him in the face. I was watching a program on my laptop, but he wanted me to turn it off so he could go to sleep. I said there were only five more minutes, and I wanted to finish it. He roughly grabbed my small dog by the neck and threw him out of the room! Then he yanked the bigger dog by the collar and shoved him out of the room. As she was telling the story, I had my own dog in my lap, and I hugged her closer.
When I did, my pinky and ring fingers brushed his left cheek. He threatened to call He said it would be my last evening in the house. And, there was no mark on my hand where I had allegedly hit him. Lars has tooth implants, and they often come free. The responding officer asked him if he really wanted to proceed with filing a police report. It would mean that Louise would go to jail, and that would affect her daycare business, which was their only income. Not surprisingly, he chose to have me go to jail for the night. At the battery hearing the next day, he dropped the matter, and I was released.
Unfortunately, this event caused much damage to the daycare business. Who would continue to entrust their children to someone who was arrested for battery? Although we got her record expunged, it was nearly impossible to have her mug shot permanently removed from the internet. Luckily, some clients liked her so much and had so much faith in her that they allowed their children to remain. She immediately petitioned for divorce, despite her grave concerns about his possible response. Their marriage was a history of his verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.
When they lived in Belgium, he became angry with her because she refused to do something that he had asked, and he tried to kick her. When she jumped away, he accidentally kicked the cabinet door and broke his big toe. He often kicked and hit her beloved dogs. He repeatedly would release the dogs to wander in the neighborhood and then taunt her about it.
He often victimized Liam, as well. Once when Louise and Liam ran after the dogs because Lars had let them out, Lars locked them both out of the house. He jeered at them through the sliding glass door. Liam finally used a code to enter the front of the house. When Lars realized that he was inside, he unlocked the sliding glass door for Louise, but then slammed her hard against the wall when she entered.
A couple of months later, when she was washing dishes, he threw a can at her, and it hit her in her back. After making this threat, he would remind her of the knife he kept in his nightstand. He also threatened to ruin her daycare business if she ever tried to divorce him. Because of the history of violence and the incident that resulted in her arrest, Louise also petitioned for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. However, the judge agreed to set a hearing in order to hear from both parties. It was an uphill battle to get the injunction.
We persisted. She was very fearful of his potential violence, including entering the marital home and upsetting her daycare children, doing something to harm her business, or picking a fight with Liam. Although he had dropped the battery charges against her, she was convinced he wanted her out of the house so he could stay and ruin the daycare. He had begun by having her arrested. She was terrified of what else he would do if allowed to remain living there. This affects the final judgment.
Normally, the living arrangements during the process of divorce become permanent. Therefore, winning an injunction early strengthens the likelihood of receiving the marital home and the majority of timesharing. Usually the wife employs this strategy, but sometimes, the husband tries to force the wife out of the home. When prepping Louise for the hearing, we stressed the importance of convincing the judge that she was fearful for her own personal safety. During the hearing, we questioned her regarding the recent incident and the many past episodes of his violence, aggression, and harassment.
We also questioned Liam. To our relief, the judge granted her petition for protection, and an injunction was entered for one year. Because the proceedings continued beyond that year, the judge extended the injunction until the divorce was finalized. But, once divorced, he would only receive the normal pension. And she would receive no pension. She believed this additional money and support routinely received from her family were the reasons he wanted to remain married.
Early one morning, when her daycare children were still eating breakfast, she quietly crept into her bedroom, trying not to wake him. She found him wearing her white bra. Although she was shocked, she postponed a discussion because the children and Liam were there in the kitchen. When they did talk, she made it clear that she was very hurt by his behavior and would not accept it. She asked him to choose the cross-dressing or their marriage. He assured her he wanted the marriage and went to counseling a few times.
Although he soon quit, he continued to promise her that he would abandon his cross-dressing activities. She repeatedly found her panties with holes cut into them. Once the injunction was granted, he was not permitted to remain in their home. He was forced to return to Belgium, where he still had family to support him. The case would have finished fairly quickly, except for the interference caused by the distance and the time difference. We finally scheduled his deposition to try to pressure him to settle.
Because he was in Belgium, he appeared via Skype. When I posed my first question to him on this matter, his attorney almost fell out of his chair in shock.
Surprisingly, Lars responded with honesty and passion, clearly tortured by his cross-dressing desires. He responded with emotion and candor. Louise retained her beloved daycare, and Lars relocated permanently to his country of origin. Although our clients are technically adults, we often feel like we are representing children. True, divorce is one of the biggest stressors in life, ranking up there with death and taxes.
But why does it make so many regress to adolescent immaturity? Jeremy Lubsen strode into my office for his initial consultation, and announced that he had very little time to afford me. I want to divorce my wife so that I can marry my pregnant girlfriend. He certainly neglected to mention that his girlfriend, Rita, was the former wife of an old client of mine, Alex. She had referred Jeremy because I had performed an exceptional job for her ex-husband against her attorney during their divorce.
Only later, when I discovered her name, did I realize the connection. Jeremy hurriedly proceeded with his story. So, this should be an easy divorce for you. I just want it over as quickly as possible. Throughout the divorce process, Jeremy and Renee each complained bitterly that the other spoke derogatorily about him or her to their young children and discussed the divorce with the kids.
Clearly, Renee had planted these words. She asked whether he had brought Rita with him. Because he had never discussed this trip with his daughter, clearly Renee had done so. At the same time as he insisted that we move for an order to show cause why Renee should not be held in contempt of court for her violations of the standard order against involving the children in the litigation, against our advice, he shut off her access to telephone and internet. His daughter asked Jeremy about it.
Like the Las Vegas trip, she would not have known that her father was responsible for shutting off access unless her mother had mentioned it to her. The child also asked him about an upcoming court date. The Lubsens also created many problems with their timesharing plan. On one occasion, Jeremy attempted to visit with the children on his usual Wednesday evening, but Renee, who was upset over an unrelated divorce issue, refused to answer the door, and, when he ran an errand to allow her time to cool down, left the county with the children to frustrate his timesharing that night altogether.
During mediation, they agreed that Jeremy would drop the children off at the marital home in the mornings no earlier than one hour before school began. Renee unilaterally decided that he should drop the children off at school instead. If he would not, then he could not share time with them overnight. He waited. When they finally arrived home, she refused to allow him to take them. The Lubsens engaged in a verbal altercation, and Renee called the police. The children witnessed this entire, unnecessary incident.
On this occasion, the police simply convinced Renee to allow Jeremy to take the children. Her threats to withhold the children violated the standing order. Maintaining the set schedule would have been in their best interests, providing a sense of stability during the divorce. Like Renee, Jeremy should have refrained from needlessly changing their routines during this stressful time for them. Moreover, during his telephone conversations with the children, she refused to take him off the speaker phone. Unless the Court orders otherwise, parents are entitled to private conversations with their children.
When he confronted her about it, she was very agitated and kept saying that she could do whatever she wanted to do. Her comments about Rita made it clear she was punishing Jeremy because she was upset when she could hear Rita in the background. She had a small business selling products on E-Bay. During my representation of Jeremy, Alex re-retained my firm to assist him with some post-dissolution of marriage issues.
When Alex revealed this, I immediately contacted the Florida Bar Ethics Hotline to determine whether a conflict of interest existed. However, the case quickly unraveled. Are you following this? Not surprisingly, the Lubsens and their lovers eventually ended up at the same place, and the situation was ripe for disaster. Jeremy and Alex got into a physical altercation, creating a clear conflict of interest between me and Jeremy. As the lawyer in that case, all I can be sure of is that that parent is entitled to representation in the judicial process.
Peter Peter entered my office, his lanky frame draped in baggy, grass-stained clothing and his dirty, sweaty face crowned by scruffy, auburn hair. The creases enveloping his eyes made him seem older than thirty-seven. His slow speech, unlike a southern drawl, sounded like he was either confused or thinking hard about his next words. Despite the fact that his girlfriend had scheduled the consult, and accompanied him, his blue-eyed stare stripped me visually, triggering invisible waves of violation. After his intrusive look, his lips lifted in a smirk.
I tried not to look too shocked and disgusted. But, I was flabbergasted as to how this could happen. Even if his version of the story was correct, how could he have become so intoxicated? When I then pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and domestic violence, the judge prohibited me from having any contact with any of the children, not just Natalie, but also the two I share with my wife.
Because it was my first offense, I was sentenced to five years of probation. Following the events of that night, Peter joined Alcoholics Anonymous and, as far as I knew, stopped drinking. Nevertheless, during our representation of Peter, I repeatedly wondered whether he was a pervert… or just a drunk. I continued to weigh the two options … pervert or drunk? Drunk or pervert? Call me gullible, but ultimately I concluded that he was just a drunk. As a result of his guilty plea, Peter lost his job as a radiologist and was forced to find another.
Because he had paid for college by working for a landscaper, he decided that his best alternative would be a lawn care business. Of course, the modification in financial status caused by his career change was the final blow to his marriage. At the time of the incident, Peter and his wife, Joanne, a statuesque brunette, had a nine-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl together. Prior to the incident with Natalie, and before she obtained the injunction against him, he had cared for all three of the children at least three days a week while she was at work.
Joanne had agreed to this for over a year after the incident! Yet during the divorce, after the injunction, for months she prohibited him from seeing the children AT ALL. To increase his frustration, she paid babysitters to watch the children every night while she worked. During the litigation, and his separation from Joanne, Peter began dating another woman, Debi, a chunky little blonde who believed strongly in his innocence and who was extremely supportive.
She brought him in to see me and paid for his consultation. In fact, during the time that I represented him, she became pregnant, because what he needed was yet another child.
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He lived with her and her five-year old daughter in a safe neighborhood. Nevertheless, Joanne refused to allow Peter to share time with the children, even if that time was supervised by Debi and was not overnight. Furthermore, she discouraged telephone contact between him and the children. She purposely delayed the divorce process to prevent him any contact with them and to gain an upper hand in the litigation.
The longer the case dragged on, the more desperate Peter became to at least see his children, and the more willing he was to capitulate on other issues such as how they would divide up the assets, and how much child support he would pay. It took us months to schedule mediation.
Joanne, or her attorney, kept finding reasons to delay it. Then during mediation, it seemed to us that she refused to negotiate reasonably. Her demands were completely unrelated to how a judge might resolve their issues if we actually had to go to trial. We withdrew while he still owed us money, because he could no longer afford our services, and we could not afford to work for free. It was almost amusing when Debi called my office to schedule a consultation, seeking to retain us to file a paternity suit against Peter. Any case involving the child abuse is especially difficult.
Thankfully, justice prevailed in this case. Amber Taylor came to our firm with an absolutely gut-wrenching story. At the time, this young woman was just shy of thirty years old, and she was already divorced from the father of her two little girls. Although she looked young for her age, there was a maturity to her that convinced me she had already experience a lot of heartache. When she first came to us for advice, she was anxious, for reasons that became apparent, but she offered a ready smile and a lot of questions, most of them written down. She came accompanied by, not only her second husband, a quiet man who seemed happy to remain in the background, but also her two daughters.
I usually do not permit parents to bring their children with them to consultations, but I made an exception in this case. She said that Laila had told her that Anthony had sexually assaulted her. Seemingly baffled, he just shook his head. Laila told them that Anthony had come to her room, pulled down his pants, lifted his shirt, picked her up, and started kissing her all over her body.
She took a moment before proceeding. I was outraged. I am so sorry that Laila had to suffer through this. No child should have to experience this. Did she say whether it had happened more than once? Shayla urged Laila to tell their mother. I gently continued to question Amber. Amber looked ashamed. He had claimed that the events occurred when he was seventeen and his girlfriend was sixteen. He explained that, after he turned eighteen, he was arrested because she was still a minor.
As a result, he was forced to register as a sexual offender. Later, he was arrested three times for driving under the influence, and he was sentenced to four years in prison for violating probation. Because of his alcohol abuse, my life with him quickly became a nightmare. I stayed in part because I wanted my daughters to grow up with their father in their lives, unlike I had; my own father had disappeared when I was very young. As a result, I made every effort to keep him involved; I chose not to report his beatings or his demands for bizarre sexual behavior.
When he was finally released, he asked me to move back in with him with the girls so we could work on our marriage. Despite my disinterest, after much persuasion, I reluctantly agreed, believing this was the best thing for my daughters. Then, when the girls were four and six, while I was at work, he got drunk and left the children home alone.
I had him arrested, and he was convicted of one count of simple assault and two counts of child endangerment. He was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous classes and anger management courses. I stuck by him through AA and things settled for a while. I took the children and moved in with my mother, hoping that disconnecting from Anthony and his crowd would help.
He left in a huff, throwing all of his clothing into his car and demanding that me and the girls move back in with him. I was right, and soon after Anthony moved in with Lauren. Once he and Lauren got a place with room enough for the girls, they began exercising overnight visits, even before I filed for divorce. Once I filed, Anthony and I worked out a visitation schedule. In addition, they loved their dad, and I wanted to keep it that way. On another occasion, he struck their dog in the eye because she peed on the floor, and then threw the coffee table across the room.
Thus, when Laila reported his behavior to Lauren, this was not the first time she had occasion to be concerned, and she, again, called me right away. With the help of Child Protective Services, we fought hard to eliminate contact between Anthony and both of his daughters. The state prepares a case plan, and, when the parent achieves designated goals, then timesharing begins again. The process often progresses from certain limitations until, eventually, there are no restrictions.
Obviously, we were very concerned about the girls ever having to be around Anthony at all, even with careful boundaries. But he put up a good fight. He argued that Laila had seen him watching a pornographic video, and that was how she was able to describe the sexual acts and body parts so graphically. I will never know what caused him to surrender the fight, but I have never had a more satisfying day as a lawyer than when I watched him sign away his rights, knowing that neither of these two little girls would ever run the risk of being subjected to his deviant behavior while still so young.
Every divorce has more than two interested parties. There are family members, friends, business associates, even neighbors. Many offer emotional support. And along with the money comes the meddling. Stress and emotional fluctuation may cripple decision making skills for the person getting divorced. Input from trusted loved ones can help. However, sometimes the person who pays for the divorce assumes too much control. He may draft motions, briefs, and other documents. She may do legal research, even meeting and corresponding with counsel without the client present. I represented the wife, Melanie, a beautiful young flight attendant who is a spitting image of Uma Thurman, a tall, willowy gal with piles of blond curls piled high on her head.
She sought the divorce. They butted heads often, which was annoying to her husband, Matt. Matt is a fair haired, fair skinned fragile-looking man. Although he has a handsome face, there is something smarmy about him. Gerald was adamant that the couple have a male child to carry on the family name. Prior to becoming pregnant, Gerald suggested that they undergo a gender selection procedure that would sort sperm based on the assumption that sperm carrying a Y chromosome swim faster in a protein solution than sperm with an X chromosome do.
Melanie was appalled! You should plan to have a spare. Melanie finally filed for divorce after a heated altercation turned physical. Matt had discovered that Melanie had had a brief affair with a pilot with whom she worked. When he confronted her, he became violent, and Melanie called the police. She retained divorce counsel the following day. From day one, Gerald controlled and financed the divorce litigation.
In addition, he attended most of the hearings and mediations, and thwarted attempted settlements. At the beginning, Matt had a revolving door of attorneys. For people with one child, and typical minimal assets and liabilities of a home, cars, and retirement accounts, a divorce should have been a relatively simple and timely matter.
Instead, they had a full evidentiary trial, including a custodial evaluation. In the end, Melanie got majority timesharing with their son, Junior. Matt got his pre-marital home. They split their retirement accounts. It should have been over. Following the final judgment, life should have settled into a new normal for both people. Instead, financed by Gerald and fueled by his legal knowledge, months and years of frivolous motions were filed and challenges made. Toward the end, following multiple meetings with attorneys and courts, one judge commented: The only way we could do that would be if there was no view of the law and the evidence that would allow the trial court exercising discretion to give custody of the child to the mother….
Thousands of dollars were spent. The stress even caused breast cancer in Melanie, something she had to hide from her ex in fear that he would use it to try to win more timesharing with their son. The legal battle went on. Legal squabbles continued over timesharing, choice of schools and oddly worded legal documents prepared by Gerald.
What does this case show? It clearly points to a compelling interest for courts to find a reasonable way to curtail third party involvement in finances and ensuing control. More disconcerting is the power imbalance when one side through a third party has the means to vexatiously control and continue the litigation.
This forces the underfunded party to into a defensive position without means to pay. I entered court with my client for our first appearance in front of the judge. My client was nervous. A bookkeeper by day and a dad by night, he took both jobs very seriously. I was nervous because I had never appeared before this judge. He had recently been appointed to the bench, and the chief judge had immediately assigned him to family court.
For some reason, new judges are always sent to family court. When the bailiff announced that court was in session, he strode into court as if he owned it, as indeed he did. He made these off-the-cuff comments in a very good-humored kind of way:. I never had anything to do with family law when I was a practicing lawyer. But how hard can it be? I have a family! Needless to say, my client was stunned. He later remembered little else but these remarks. Judges are people, too.
They make mistakes. They know what they know and bring their own biases to the table. Just as lawyers do, as well. This is one story about one such lawyer.
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If they were not slightly insane before one of them filed for divorce, the stress of the process itself indubitably throws the mind into turmoil and propagates mental distortion. And after reflection, my unfair share, despite my best efforts to screen and reject abnormally toxic clients. At the final hearing, his ex-wife, Jill Evans, was represented by her twelfth lawyer in the case. Smith was a much older man. He looked like a sweet, elderly grandpa.
He moved slowly, and often had a confused look in his eyes. He appeared to be the kind of man you would want to protect. Until he began speaking. He boasted about his successful tobacco litigation experience, but that was over twenty years ago. And, it was not family law. I could not find much evidence of any of Mr. Ten days into his representation of Jill, Mr. Smith moved on her behalf to require my client to select which motion would be heard by the Court.
Before Mr. Smith filed this motion, he sent it to me to review, and I requested that he identify the two different motions regarding which he had complained, but Mr. Smith failed to do so, even in the motion itself. At the time, I had only one motion pending before the court, an emergency motion for temporary majority timesharing and for supervised timesharing for Jill, which had been continued at the hearing where Mr.
Smith first represented her. Despite his many years of experience, Mr. Smith seemed to confuse the motion and the petition, which were two different legal requests. At the case management conference, Judge Hammerstein tried to explain this procedure to Mr. Smith, but he did not seem to grasp it until he finally withdrew his motion one month after filing it.
Prior to my submission of the proposed final judgment to the court, the twelfth attorney who had actually represented Jill at that hearing before her withdrawal , had agreed to the language of the final judgment. Smith was not present at the trial which gave rise to that final judgment, nor did he ever order the transcripts from that hearing. Further, Mr.
Smith attempted to set his motion for hearing in front of a different judge than the one who had presided at the trial. Madeira Management , So. Epperson v. Epperson , So. Here, even though the circuit court assigned Judge Walker to another division, his jurisdiction to hear a motion for rehearing continued. Furthermore, Mr. Smith did not research the appropriate civil procedures. Jill alleged that she never received a copy of the final judgment, despite that I had sent it to the court with enough copies and envelopes for the court to provide copies to Jill, her lawyer, myself, and my client.
Tom and I received our copies without a problem. Even though Mr. Smith alleged that Jill did not fail to appear because, as she had told her prior lawyer, she was ill, and that the final evidentiary hearing should have been continued. However, because the final hearing had already been reset three times once because Jill was hospitalized one day before the hearing, once because she failed to timely sign the ordered releases so that I could obtain discovery from her doctors, and once so that she could undergo an independent medical evaluation , and because the judge was leaving the bench at the end of the month, she was adamant that the final hearing would not be continued under any circumstances.
Jill was present when the judge made this remark, and the judge included it in her last order continuing the hearing. Of course, Mr. Smith provided no evidence to support this allegation, and Tom was current in his alimony payments. Confusingly, Mr. Smith offered no evidence to support this allegation, and Tom was current in his child support. Astonishingly, Mr. Smith again accused my client of perjury, asserting that his income was higher than he told to the court. The judge who presided over the final hearing on matters unrelated to the children was no longer on the family law bench.
When the case was assigned to Judge Moore, I requested that the case be reassigned to Judge Hammerstein because he had heard the dissolution of marriage proceedings and was thus familiar with the parties and issues. Nevertheless, Mr. Smith was not present at the final evidentiary hearings, had not reviewed transcripts from the hearings, and had not spoken with the attorney who represented her at the hearings about the hearings and the ruling.
Prior to my submission of the proposed final judgment to the court, her former counsel had agreed to the language of the proposed final judgment. Additionally, both motions filed by Mr. Smith were in all bold, capital letters, were oddly juvenile, and read as though they were drafted by a non-attorney. Smith acted very unprofessionally in his correspondences with me.
Smith emailed me: The continuation of this case is obscene in my view, and only designed to promote litigation, line the pockets of his attorneys, and for no good for these parties and their children…. Moreover, Mr. Smith repeatedly changed his email and mailing addresses, and often had no access to a fax machine. He repeatedly misspelled our email addresses, thereby delaying correspondences. When he stated in emails that he was attaching documents, he often did not.
He also attempted to reserve three and a half days on my calendar for deposition, not considering the great cost to Tom to pay for my time to attend all of these depositions. However, he sued Tom for damages for payment of his fees in his representation of Jill. Smith stated that he would be willing to forego his fees for that matter only.
Baumgartner , So. Please respect that message and comply. He bashed Tom in the very first email that he sent me, claiming that he was physically abusive to Jill. He had no support of his damning allegations except for her word, which she had proven was not credible. Smith told me that there were no findings that Jill had ever been Baker Acted, even though she had been detained on numerous occasions.
Smith was attempting to state in this sentence because his grammar was poor, but it appeared that he was admitting that Jill exaggerated her health problems to defraud the Social Security Administration. Smith further threatened: Just so you known and not be blindsided, I am preparing a lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress by your client on mine, and for his outrageous conduct in a separate count, and will add a claim for malpractice also once I have the records of the children all examined, and his responsibility is determined as required by the statues and caselaw.
This is any kind of threat, just so you will know what is coming and I will have him served with process, and the matter will be tried by a jury in Pinellas county. We will then see what a jury thinks of his conduct and the obscenity of 9 court volumes, etc. Have a great day. Smith made this threat, despite that Jill was the party who had caused Tom emotional distress by repeatedly falsely accusing him of sexually abusing their children. He was eventually cleared of sexual abuse through a psychosexual evaluation and a lie detector test.
Additionally, I requested that the final judgment on matters unrelated to the children be amended due to a clerical error regarding a modification of child support, and I copied Mr. Smith on the correspondence. He sent another email, accusing me of submitting the letter regarding the proposed amended final judgment to the judge without mentioning Mr. Smith had filed his ridiculous motion. He also accused me of lying to the court regarding the fact that I provided the proposed child support guidelines to Mr. However, I did provide the proposed guidelines to him when I provided the proposed order to him, the one to which Mr.
Smith responded. It will stop or I will make it stop—period. He also notified Judge Moore of his objection, despite that Judge Moore was not the judge who heard the final evidentiary hearing regarding matters unrelated to the children, and if Mr. Smith emailed me: … for me, no more communication except in writing from anyone in your office and will tell judge your office can not trusted and why in my opinion.
Smith appeared to have an unprofessional relationship with Jill. And, during a hearing, he informed the court that he had spoken with each of the children. This is just a simple suggestion. Well, the children can be taken in. Also, Jill told Tom that their daughter had spoken with Mr.
Evans appropriately took care of, took her down to get pediatric plastic surgery, and the day he was served with his civil suit I had to be there to make sure she was okay…. Smith became a central figure in the case. Doing so is inappropriate because the attorney may then need to act as a witness in the matter. Smith refused to correspond with anybody other than that attorney. Smith himself had performed no such research prior to filing his baseless complaint.
Smith made numerous allegations in the complaint that were res judicata, a doctrine that a final judgment on the merits by a court having jurisdiction is conclusive between the parties to a suit as to all matters that were litigated or that could have been litigated in that suit. Shockingly, Mr. Smith alleged that Tom refused to pay the parenting coordinator when he disagreed with him, even though that it was the PC who requested the discharge because he could not trust that Jill would refrain from making false accusations against him.
Smith again accused Tom of not paying child support, despite that he was current in his support payments. At a case management conference, Mr. When I referred to the threat in the complaint regarding the gun, Mr. Smith stated: I made a mistake on that, counsel. It is wrong…. That was my mistake. The gun is locked up in the safe of a policeman that Dr. Evans knows in Feather Sound. I made the mistake. This story has been shared 42, times. This story has been shared 24, times. This story has been shared 22, times. View author archive Get author RSS feed.
Name required. Email required. Comment required. Enlarge Image. Mark and Debby Constantino Fox News. A police officer is taken to an ambulance following an armed standoff in Sparks, Nev. Sparks and Reno police officers work during a raid at the Courtside Garden Apartments. They discovered the couple dead in an apparent murder-suicide, police said. Read Next Surprise! Most Popular This Week 1. Gloria Vanderbilt leaves almost everything to Anderson Cooper.
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