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Joseph
Joseph, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7279
Experience:  I have over a decade of experience as a Family Law litigator
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Am in midst of very bad divorce. 12 yrs., husband 66 with three

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Am in midst of very bad divorce. 12 yrs., husband 66 with three grown kids. I am56. Came into marriage with house, husband insist I sell beforehand, give everything away. Said he would take care of me, no need work. Very stupid of me. At time, husband owned very successful company. I had long, successful career and planned to go back after traveling, etc. Many changes in my field, when I decided to pursue plus husband moved us to house (without my input) he had bought for kids before marriage, far from majority of career opportunities. I lost my career, worked part time but not a lot earned. Also am bipolar, which worsened due to abuse and alcohol. Lost all confidence. Applied disability and got it recently, in middle of divorce. Nothing was ever in my name except joint checking which he closed last year. There is much more but will get to issues.

Filed divorce in January. At the time I had been led to believe we had no money, for several years now. Husband owns company, inactive for years primarily due to his drinking. Son runs it now. They set up family trust last year, secretive. In April my brother saw online that he sold house for a dollar to trust in December. I think there are more lies. Husband refused to provide financials until about a month ago. Husband's attorney asked for pre-settlement conference one week before pre-trial date. My lawyer never responded, and offered no explanation. Husband's attorney then pushed pre-trial to September.

My attorney received settlement proposal yesterday. I knew it was coming by Tuesday but did not hear. I called today and he received it yesterday AM. He said he had not had time to review it. (five pages, he sent me later) I asked for basics on the phone. It is very lowball and I am crushed at amount. $150k, 60/40 house and 401K. (Both in his name. But I know there must be more. It is ridiculous. My husband wants his kids to get everything. I know that is common, but I was not told contents of trust. He is a liar.)

Lawyer was very defensive, said going on vacation next week and cannot review in next two days. I asked if he knew husband's net worth and he said no. He has had info for weeks. I think he is unprepared now, and was unprepared for pre-conference. He said we will negotiate when he returns. I feel he has given me info in dribs and drabs and we have never had a really comprehensive conversation. He said before that he thought I would probably get a good settlement after he received documents, now says maybe a little more. I know he cannot say for sure but i am very frustrated. He also said husband's lies do not matter, everyone lies. True, but does it? I do not feel that this lawyer is fighting for me. I do admit I sometimes email a lot (not constantly). He may be annoyed. However, shouldn't he be keeping me informed about what he learned from discovery and other important matters and not be defensive? I am really concerned that I hired the wrong lawyer.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.

Based on the facts as you have stated them, the divorce action was filed in January, just about four months ago. As you may know, a divorce case can often last a year or two, occasionally even longer. Meaning, your case is actually still rather new and much work remains to be done.

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I would agree with you that there are some indicators that your attorney is not as up to speed as one might like. Having said that, he still has plenty of time to learn more about the case, to further investigate your husband's financial situation and to work towards ensuring the best possible result.

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You certainly have options on how to proceed with your case. You might consider setting an office conference with your attorney for sometime after his vacation. You could use the office conference to ask whatever questions you may have and see if you like his responses. If you like what he has to say and believe he is working in your best interest, then stay with him. If not, then consider looking for a new attorney that can better represent you in this matter.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. A few questions: When an attorney is asked for a pre-settlement conference that is supposed to take place one week before pre-trial, is he not obligated to respond and does that sit poorly with a judge? If he gets a proposal offer should he not inform me himself very quickly? And, is it true that lies do no matter during this type of situation?

I will do as you suggested. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to start over. I have paid hm $10,000 so far and feel I have little to show for it.
Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.

When an attorney is asked for a pre-settlement conference that is supposed to take place one week before pre-trial, is he not obligated to respond and does that sit poorly with a judge?

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Yes, the attorney clearly has an obligation to his client and to the case to respond. However, I don't know that I would say it would "sit poorly with the judge" if he did not. You have to keep in mind that it is the clients, not the attorneys, that need to make sure they look good in court. While it is certainly helpful to have your attorney come across well to the judge, it's more important that you come across well.

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If he gets a proposal offer should he not inform me himself very quickly?

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The attorney absolutely has an obligation to inform his client of any offers of settlement. As to the timing of it, that's a bit more difficult to say. In my practice, I try to forward everything to my client within a couple of days. My opinion is that the best practice is to keep your client as informed as possible. Ethically, there is nothing wrong, as a general rule, in taking a week or so to forward things to the client.

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And, is it true that lies do no matter during this type of situation?

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Well, yes and no. I would agree with the attorney that most people "lie" in these situations. A better way to put it would be to say that clients "spin" things in the light most favorable to them. For example, the person wanting to keep the marital home would likely put the value of the home as low as possible while the person wanting to leave and be bought out would put the value as high as possible. Trust me when I say that judges are well aware of this as well. Should parties be as honest as possible? Sure. However, "fibs" such as I described are common and of little concern.

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I need to sign off for the evening to prepare my files for the morning court appearances. While I believe I have answered your questions, please feel free to respond if necessary and know that I will be back online tomorrow. I thank you in advance for your patience.

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I hope you found my answer helpful. If so, please click on "OK", "Good" or "Excellent" service. This is necessary for me to be paid for my work and so that I can get credit for assisting you. Even if you are a subscription member, you will need to click on one of the positive indicators. Your question will not close, and you will still have the opportunity to follow-up if needed.
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If you are not yet satisfied with my answer, please do not yet rate my service. Instead, please click on the "Reply to Expert" and let me know what else I can do for you. Please only rate my answer when you are fully satisfied.
.
Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.
.
Leaving a bonus is not required but doing so is certainly appreciated! Thank you and good luck.

Joseph, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7279
Experience: I have over a decade of experience as a Family Law litigator
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