Since I last contacted you, a trial setting was supposed to have taken place on January 28.
My attorney (Jim) requested a 30-day delay, because since August we had not yet received any of the requested discovery documents from my ex’s attorney (e.g. telephone records, bank statements, income tax records, etc.) We did get incomplete bank statements and all income tax records, but his attorney cited “relevance” and “over-burdensome” on all other requests.
On Feb. 29 we set hearing date for March 30, as I had requested a custody evaluation
. The other attorney is objecting to the amount of time it will require to complete, (by approximately mid-August), in that it will push the litigation beyond one year. (Note: I did not know this was an available option to me, until I had done my own research, or I would have requested it long ago.)
I completed my own initial appointment with the evaluator on Mar. 22.
Just prior to the hearing on Mar. 30, I told Jim that I had prepared a very detailed visitation
schedule, (which we have never had in place before, and part of my “homework” from the evaluator) which would allow my daughter to stay with her dad on his rest days (Thursday & Friday) from 6 pm Wednesday after school to 6 pm during alternate weeks. Also I noted holidays, including Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day, while I would have July 4th and New Years Eve—the major drinking holidays.
I had prepared a statement requesting the evaluation, in the event that the ex/attorney objected to it. The two attorneys walked down the hallway to the judge’s chamber, closing the door behind them.
When they came back into the courtroom, it had been determined that I would pay for the evaluation in full ($3,500 to start with), that all four parties, including the girlfriend, would participate on the stipulation that the evaluation be completed by July 1.
The judge granted the evaluation. The trial is set for July 23.
My daughter will turn 15 on July 8.
The reason I included he ex’s girlfriend: a.) maybe she would run screaming the other way because she does not want to be a party to the matter, and if he wants to keep her, he will settle the lawsuit; b.) I think she is major part of the enticement of my daughter to move in with her dad.
The judge left, and the two attorneys began writing notes and talking among themselves regarding the visitation schedule.
Without my knowledge, the alternate rest days were amended to Wednesday after school, until Friday at 9 pm (this was almost changed to Saturday morning). Up until the trial date the father will have all the holidays including July 4th. Also, the dad and daughter will retain the option to initiate visitation at any time at either her request or his invitation (which rarely happens anyway). We were told we would coordinate about scheduled activities by text—while allowing the girlfriend to pick my daughter up at school or other activities.
I said, “I’m NOT happy with that.” To which Jim replied, “I know, I know, I’ll talk to you at the car or back at the office.”
I was told that the lenient visitation schedule would make me look very fair and equitable. I was also informed that as long as she is a “responsible adult” with a valid driver’s license, she is allowed to transport my daughter. He said he was just giving them what the judge would have granted anyway, had the other party requested it.
During the early contacts with the other attorney, Jim sounded like he was going to help me fight this. (By the way he does not specialize in family law
, but a general practice, though he handles many divorces
and accordingly custody matters. Only attorney office in my small rural town).
Over the last months, in less than a handful of conversations, Jim has told me that I should find a boyfriend, see a counselor, perhaps simply let my daughter “bump her head,” by letting her go live with her dad.
Most recently he said that if this is evaluation does not turn out in my favor, we should just throw in the towel.
Here’s my problem:
I do not like my attorney completing negotiations without explanation, my knowledge or consent. (Though I would have agreed to the changes in visitation had I been informed).
I am beginning to feel that Jim has a preconception that an immature teen-ager should be allowed to make dumb decisions and suffer the consequences (i.e. “bump her head”).
This whole proceeding is crawling so slowly, is he trying let me get used to the idea that I am about to be the victim of a legal kidnapping and there is nothing I can do about it; sort of “letting me down easy?”
I also feel that Jim (like many attorneys and judges) would very much like to have this settled out of court, because he is very busy and it would be over with quickly and be one less case on his desk.
I had to provide the girlfriends correct name (by various small town inquiry-everybody knows everybody), because the ex would not provide it, so that Jim could do a court records check—she did incur