Law School Discussion

Hypothetical Divorce


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Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2008, 06:28:43 AM »

And if there are kids involved, and I hope there are not, you are doing them a huge disservice if you're trying to handle this yourself with a book and by asking students on a message board.  ("Daddy loves you son, but he didn't want to get a credit card with 0% APR introductory rate and slowly pay off a $3k lawyer bill.  Daddy also loves cable and cellphone too.") 

Man, you can be a real heartless b*tch sometimes.  It shows a lot about you that you seem to believe everyone is in a situation to a) get credit or a loan and b) afford the monthly payments.  Not everyone has good credit for whatever reason, and can't borrow money.  Getting loans for any reason in this economy is hard, and if you have crappy credit, its even more difficult.  Your assumptions are completely unwarranted IMO, and berating this person is completely unnecessary.  Lawyers are expensive, and if everyone could easily afford one by simply borrowing money or getting a credit card, there wouldn't be the need for non-profits to help people who are disadvantaged.

To the OP, I'm sorry you are in such a stressful situation.  If you haven't already, try to get in touch with the local bar association and ask for help.  jeffislouis posted what looked like a lot of good links with information for you.

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2008, 06:34:50 AM »
I reserved my harshest comments for a finger-wag if there are kids involved.  My mom is a teacher.  It's not a high-paying profession, but OP should have the money for a very important $3,000 purchase or $100/mo. to pay it off in 3 years.  (Cutting cable and cellphone should get the $100/mo. right there.)  If not, he should (gasp) get a part-time job in the summer or get a part-time job from 4-9 a few days a week. 

Credit is still widely available to people who've been anywhere close to responsible with their money. 

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2008, 06:38:57 AM »
Hoggy I would totally try to answer your hypothetical, but I am graduating in three weeks and never took family law.  Sorry, and I am sympathetic to your situation, but I don't know jack. 
Post something on commercial transactions or corporate law, and maybe I could be useful.  I suspect many students probably know less than you on the issue.  Family law is kind of a specialty, and it would typically implicate other areas of law (tax and property).  Also, most courses we study are taught in generalities, not state specific.  So, if someone has taken family law, they would still have to do some research. 

Good luck.

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2008, 06:47:06 AM »
... you are doing them a huge disservice if you're trying to handle this yourself with a book and by asking students on a message board.

This is funny because Peaches advises OP to get a book earlier the thread.  Now, its fodder for criticism. 


Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2008, 06:49:02 AM »

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2008, 06:54:34 AM »
Quote from: Peaches on Today at 11:19:15 AM
... you are doing them a huge disservice if you're trying to handle this yourself with a book and by asking students on a message board.

This is funny because Peaches advises OP to get a book earlier the thread.  Now, its fodder for criticism.

Sorry, but if kids are involved, you should not do your divorce like a madlib.

Man, you can be a real heartless b*tch sometimes.
Calling someone a heartless b*tch on the internet isn't very nice either.  I didn't call the OP names.

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2008, 07:07:21 AM »
Thanks again to those who have replied.
I was posing a hypothetical situation because it was suggested. I am not trying to get anyone in trouble.

I KNOW I NEED an attorney. I have contacted several attorneys. I consulted with 2. Everyone I talked with charged a minimum of $3 K before continuing on, + over $200 an hour when that runs out. If I had the money I wouldn't be asking for help on a message board. I bought a divorce book at Books-a-Million. I went to the library and researched the Tennessee divorce laws. I have looked all over the internet.

I called the court to ask for the appropriate responsive documents. Again I was told they didn't do that - I would have to see an attorney. She gave me the Chancellor's number. I called and got the same. I said I was responding myself and she told me they would not accept it unless it was the proper form.

How do you defend yourself if the attorneys are the only ones who can properly respond?

My next step is going to the court to ask to see other divorce papers since they are of public record, as I was told by another lawyer.

I just want to know where to get the form to answer a complaint or if I type it up myself  what should be in it.

Thanks again

As others have said, answering the complaint is the easy part.  If you are struggling to answer the complaint, how are you going to respond when you get a set of interrogatories served on you or when you want to take the deposition of your wife? 

Consulting with 2 attorneys is not a large sample at all.  You need to talk to more.  Ask them about their fees up front, talk to them about payment arrangements.  You have a job with steady income, someone will work with you.  Based on what you have told us, you have a lot to lose here if this is not handled properly by a professional.  Do you want to look back in a few years and say "I was totally screwed by that other attorney, but at least I saved a few grand by representing myself?" 


Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2008, 11:39:36 AM »
Thanks. I found one more affordable. Free consultation; 425 retainer and 125 an hour. I don't get to meet with him until the 25th and my answer is due 30 days from March 29th so I may be out of luck anyway.

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2008, 03:16:54 PM »
the problem here is that you are asking questions of the variety that we as law students are not yet equipped to handle

for example, you could pose a hypothetical of a sort that reads like this: "suppose that individual A in state B has received summons re a divorce proceeding from individual C. individual A is a pro se participant and as such is unaware of the legal ramifications associated with the 'community property' designation. if assets D,E, and F, are in play here, what rights could pro se A expect in a community property paradigm?"

instead, you are asking Qs that are related to the actual practice of law; in sum, you need representation of some sort

with that having been established, i do have 2 quick suggestions for you

1) obviously this is not a criminal trial and as such you have no right to counsel under either the 5A or the 6A. though civil litigation does not carry a constituent right to counsel, the trial court judge is not prohibited from appointing counsel in response to a request. in other words, the TC judge is certainly not required to give you an attorney, but he / she isn't prohibited from doing so either. given that a decent # of lawyers fulfill their pro bono reqs by participating in programs which allow judges to appoint counsel for the indigent, this might be an option for you.

as im just a know-nothing law student, i really have no clue as to how this works in practice. my suggestion to you is this: call the judge's clerk. explain to the clerk that you are receiving legal briefs from your wife's counsel and you have no clue as to what they mean or as to what to do. explain to the clerk that you are dirt poor and that are you unable to afford representation of any sort. if need be, tell the clerk that you can verify this with pay stubs, account balance sheets, etc - the court needs to know that you actually are indigent. then inquire as to whether or not the judge has a willingness to appoint counsel for those who are unable to obtain counsel for themselves. you might want to throw a thing or two in there about the fact that your wealthy significant other has been able to retain the so-and-so hot shot divorce attorney and that they are currently suffocating your pro se self with a full court press.

there is certainly no guarantee that hte court will respond favorably to this request, but like i said, (good) attorneys are out there who need to fulfill their pro bono reqs for the year. representing the indigent obviously qualifies in this regard.

2)just go to court and represent yourself pro se. the trial court judge will take care of your interests once he / she sees that you are operating without counsel. the judge will obviously not impart legal advice to you, etc but at the same time the judge will more or less represent you with regards to motions, objections, and the like. in other words, pro se participants essentially get away with murder when it comes to being in court. the judge has an obligation to protect your opportunity to be heard. as such, leaving a divorce matter in the hands of a judge might not a horrible idea, esp if the divorce laws are relatively simple in your state (i.e. each side gets half, good bye). if you show up pro se, you probably won't have to worry about losing your rights due to some esoteric technicality)(i.e. just file a brief; forget about formatting it correctly, etc. Write an essay as to why it is that you think that you deserve holdings A, assets B, and visitation rights C. The judge will read this.).

all of this aside, you should, at the very least, consult with a lawyer. during the consultation, you will be able to receive some preliminary advice (i.e. how the process works, what the laws are, what you can reasonably expect, etc). the consultation alone will not break the bank.

anyway, good luck ;)

Re: Hypothetical Divorce
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2008, 03:49:43 PM »
You can also ask the judge for an extension; if you put a call in to the judge's clerk, ask if filing for an extension so that your lawyer can respond is a possibility.

While some judges will give an extra hand to a pro se litigant, it's not something you can count on. Sometimes it just speeds up the process of winning for the represented party.

Tennessee, btw, not a community property state.