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Hi, Donna, Nice idea about the Berkshires, but I think I'll have to pass on that suggestion. My older daughter graduated Boston University, but her tuition started at $34,000 a year and if you asked me what the tuition was 4 years later, I have mentally blocked it out of my mind. Somebody must have told her that her last name was really Rockefeller and that's how she lives. If I stopped to think of all the bills I have, I think they would have to take me away somewhere in a straight jacket. My younger daughter is still in school. The last time I went on vacation was in 1997, believe it or not. In answer to your question, yes, I do have a private practice, but I need new office space because the building where I had my office was sold, my lease had expired and the law firm that bought it needed all the offices. Until I find suitable office space, I am temporarily trying to work from home, but I find that impossible because there are too many interesting distractions, like my dogs which I absolutely adore, they are my life and I would give my life for them. We are not permitted to take on customers as clients, nor are we permitted to communicate with customers outside of this forum. But, I cannot stop customers from finding me. I grew up in New York, sat for the New York State Bar examination and passed it the first time around, but now live in pa. At that time New York did not recognize the Bar exams of any other State, so other States would not grant reciprocity to New York residents, so I had to take the pennsylvania bar exam. Fortunately, I passed that one also the first time around. I do not have any more Bar examinations on my agenda. Now, back to your situation, what does this lawyer want to discuss at your meeting ? Be careful that he is not just trying to generate a higher fee because I cannot see what he wants to discuss with you - He doesn't know anything about the award of counsel fees and does not want to pursue them. Is he going to tell you that you have to pay back your husband the $20,000 ? Is he going to tell you that he is not going to pursue alimony because he thinks you are not entitled to that either ? By the way,an Attorney's first Petition for Interim Counsel fees is usually combined with a request for Alimony Pendente Lite (temporary alimony). I guess he hasn't pursued that either. If you do not mind my asking, Exactly what has he done for the $3,000 retainer that you have paid him ? So, you see, my question on what he wants to discuss at your meeting is a valid one and I really think it is for the sole reason to justify his receipt of the $3,000. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you call him before you meet and ask him why he needs to meet with you because his meter is going to be running, but you won't be getting even a cab ride with him.
In Answer to your numbered questions,
1. If you want to calculate alimony and for its duration under Massachusetts law - Subtract your gross income from his, then multiply the difference by .35. For example, if his gross is $60,000 and yours is $20,000, the difference is $40,000. When you multiply that by .35, the result is $14,000. That would be the maximum that you could receive. As for the duration, Massachusetts has a formula for that also. If the duration of the marriage was 6 years or less, the maximum duration would be 50%. So, for example, if a couple was married for 6 years, the recipient spouse would be entitled to receive up to a maximum of 3 years. If the marriage lasted between 6 and 10 years, the duration would be for 60% of the number of years that a couple was married. From 11 to 15 years, the multiplier is 70%. From 16 to 20 years, the maximum would be 80%. If the marriage lasted over 20 years, the Judge can extend the payment of alimony indefinitely.
Here is a link to calculating amounts under Massachusetts Law
2. Life insurance beneficiary - The Judge might order that in order to insure that you received the amount of alimony ordered by the Judge for the period of time he Ordered it. For example, if alimony was awarded in the amount of $14,000 per year for a total of 12 years, that would mean that you should receive a total of $168,000. A Judge could Order him to carry life insurance in that amount with a declining balance;
3. Any type of pension that was earned during the marriage is considered "marital property" and is subject to equitable distribution;
4. He should pay at least one-half of the debt because you were not using the credit cards for your personal purchases. You were incurring this debt which represented purchases for the children;
5. You do not owe him any part of the $20,000, and at the risk of repeating myself, You do not owe him any part of the $20,000. Please try to remember in which month you asked that question so that I can find the Answer I gave you to that question, Okay ?
6. Your Attorney should have filed a 'Petition for Alimony Pendente Lite and Interim Counsel Fees" by now!!! And, as the proceedings progressed and the Attorney actually did some work on your case, he could file several "Petitions for Interim Counsel Fees" and then at the end, he would file a Petition for Counsel Fees for any remaining balance. If you want to know exactly what this lawyer has done for you, ask him for an "Itemized Bill for Legal Services Rendered". Every client is entitled to this and every Attorney is obligated to furnish a client with this type of bill. It consists of three columns and I have sent an example of this type of bill as an Attachment. If you click on the link, it will open as a "Word" document and you will see what the bill is supposed to look like and how detailed it should be.
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i guess i'm a bit stupid, as i have not reviewed all documents that i got from my first lawyer.
yes, he closed his practice. i had paid him $3000 retainer. he said my folder will be given to 2nd lawyer, and i had a balance of $660., i could meet with him and see if i want him.
1. date stamped usps, 2-12-13 very first piece of mail i got from lawyer 1 was a letter from the court stating temporary order is to be complied with on court date of 2-14-13 (court date) first court date w lawyer. WHAT WAS ORDERED, WE WERE ALREADY DOING, me and husband.
2. 2nd piece of mail from lawyer 1. usps dated 4-17, a bill stating
conference with donna
conference with donna and husband and attorney IN COURT, go before judge
draft financial statement
conference with donna, husband/attorney IN COURT/go before judge
draft request for production of documents
draft letter to husbands attorney
went to court on 5-29-2013, was verbally informed that 1st lawyer was "closing my practice"
3. 3rd piece of mail date usps 5-29-13
review discovery response from husbands atty (i did not see this)
draft pre-trial conference memorandum (i did not see this)
phone call donna
4. usps mail date stamped 5-30-13
order signed by judge enclosed, nothing else, stating on 5-28 we appeared for pre-trial conference, is not ready to be scheduled for trial.
continued til july 17, 2013 for further pre-trial. prior to that the court expects:
a. wife's successor counsel be prepared to continue in the pre trial conference
b. parties shall have 4-way meeting before 7-17.
c.husbands counsel shall provide wife's counsel with updated navy pension and life insurance info prior to june 30.
as of yesterday, july 10, prior to 4-way meeting with all, no navy pension information and life insurance info were received by my lawyer. husbands lawyer handed some paperwork from navy to my lawyer. this info was dated 2005.
i just remembered that date of 2005, and just realized the date to get it to us was june 30.
usps dated june 14, 2013
5. last piece of mail from 1st lawyer. letter inside dated 6-14-13
.........."pursuant t to our conversation, i am transferring your file and the balance of your retainer in the amount of $610. to ..blah, as i am closing my practice. blah blah
what is your opinion? should i say anything to 1st lawyer?
how do i fire 2nd lawyer when court is next week?
how do i find someone competent?
what if i cannot afford another $3000 retainer?
1. The first Attorney should not have taken your retainer and should not have taken on your case because he knew he was retiring; his decision was not made in May when he announced it. He also knew when he took on your case in February that the case would not be over before he retired. I think it was a little unprofessional, but that is just me;
2. His bill does not state the dates on which he allegedly performed each service, nor does he state how much time he spent on performing each service, and I can probably guess that he did not list the time because
(a) "draft request for production of documents" - These are standard in divorce proceedings and all that he or his secretary had to do was type your name and your address and your husband's name, then push a button on the computer to print them out and mail them to opposing counsel;
(b) He is double billing you because he is charging you for a conference with opposing counsel on the day you were in Court because he already charged you for his Court appearance. He was in Court already, how can he be charging you for a conference if he is already there, anyway ? And, he did this forXXXXXdates, so he double billed you twice for that. Of course, the Attorneys for the parties will discuss the case when they go to Court, but it does not become a second billing item;
(c) If he really reviewed opposing counsel's response to request for production of documents, he would have seen that none of the required information was sent and he should have done something about it and also discussed it at these so-called "conferences" on the Court dates;
(d) If the information had to be delivered by June 30, and he did not receive it, he would have had another phone call to opposing counsel on the bill and he would have been preparing a "Motion to Compel" and also would have mentioned it in his pre-trial conference memorandum;
3. He should not have handed your file over to the second attorney and the balance of your retainer without first introducing you to the other attorney and receiving your consent to transfer your files to him. You saw how disinterested the second attorney was in your case, your files, and your questions.
4. It was very unprofessional to hand your files over to another attorney so close to a Court date because it left you very little time to find another attorney
I pointed out what I thought were "defects" in the first attorney and the second attorney, but the decision of what you should do at this point is a decision that only you can make. However, one thing is certain and that is that you have to demand a "real" bill in the form of an itemized list of legal services rendered. Have you reviewed the sample bill I sent you as an Attachment ? I sent it so that you could compare the sample bill with what the attorney sent you. Please look at the Attachment, do not make me feel that I went through that exercise for nothing. After all, I know what a bill is supposed to look like and I sent the Attachment for your benefit and so that you could determine if you were receiving what the law says you are entitled to receive from your attorney.
If you find another attorney, you do not have to do anything because the attorney will take care of that by sending the second attorney a letter stating,
"Please be advised that Mrs. __________ has retained me to represent her in the above captioned matter. Kindly have her files ready to be picked up and I will have a messenger at your office on ________, 2013 at ____ PM."
If worse came to worse, you can tell the second attorney in writing that you will not be needing his services and you can arrange to have someone pick up your files. A client can fire their attorney at any time and no reason needs to be given. It is the attorney who needs Court permission to withdraw from a client's case. You can go to the next pre-trial and ask the Judge for a continuance and before the Judge has the opportunity to become annoyed tell him in 3 or 4 short sentences what transpired at your meeting with the second attorney, that the first attorney did not ask your consent to transfer your files and that the second attorney had no interest in your case or in answering any of your questions, therefore, the attorney's conduct showed you that he had not interest in your case and he would not be representing your interests.
Let me know how the bill you received compares with the Sample bill I sent to you as the Attachment,
GOOD MORNING. ok., got everything.
I agree that lawyer 1 should not have taken me on. except for making an appearance or 2, he did nothing for me.
his bill did have dates and amount of time. do u want all that info also, I didn't know if you wanted all.
laywer 2 is just as bad. after this weeks meeting the other day, I probably only have $200 left.
I understand about hiring another lawyer and they will send notification to lawyer 2.
does lawyer 2 have to go with me to court next week, if I am getting rid of him. I would like to mention to the judge that lawyer 1 did this this and this, and lawyer 2 did this this and this, which were all unprofessional, blah blah blah. but I cry when I get nervous and I definitely won't be able to speak if my lawyer is there and husband and his lawyer are there.
are you n.y. and pa only?
Lawyer 2 does not have to go to Court with you especially if he is not doing anything for you and will not be prepared for Court. You would be spending money for nothing. We are not permitted to take on customers as clients or form any Attorney-Client relationships,
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