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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 29790
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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Did I make a mistake? I red an attorney in Feb of 2014

Customer Question

Did I make a mistake? I hired an attorney in Feb of 2014 ($1500) It took him until June to file the divorce. Took him until Sept to get us to mediation... and then things just stopped. I would call/e-mail/text him to ask about my case and he would always tell me that he was just waiting to hear from the opposing counsel. He told me that my wife's atty had not responded to a single call, text, mail, or e-mail. He STILL claims he hasn't heard ANYTHING from opposing counsel since Sept 2014.
In the first part of December 2014 I gave him a list of my terms to present to my wife's atty (mainly a set visitation with my kids). By Jan, he still told me he was waiting for a response from the opposing counsel. I stopped contacting him, and gave him room to work. The first of March,(a whole year now) he e-mailed me and asked how I wanted him to proceed with my case, because he hadn't heard from me in a while. I asked for temp orders since my wife wasn't allowing me to see my kids very much. He just gives me a run around, but said he needed $1200 more for me to be current on what he had done so far. So I paid.
Now - as of June 12, 2015 my wife has refused to let me take my kids (she does this every summer to interfere with me getting extended time, but this is a new level). Since THAT day I have hounded my atty to get a hearing for temporary orders so that I can see my kids. He told me he would need another $1500 retainer, so I paid.
We are now Aug 4, 2015. He just barely told me last week that a judge finally "signed off" approving a hearing. Okay. Now what? This week my atty is telling me that we have to wait for scheduling, and he doesn't know how long that will take - since it's summer time and it's difficult to get judge and opposing counsel to agree to a date.
Is this routine? Can opposing counsel just refuse to communicate with us - and this just gets dragged out forever? I have been asking and begging for temporary orders since March.
Note: My wife claims it is my atty that won't return the calls.
I am not behind on child-support. Never have been. But I have not been allowed to see my kids all summer, and school starts in 2 weeks.
I mentioned to my atty a few weeks ago that I didn't feel he was doing his job. His response: "I disagree with your evaluation of the situation. If that's how you feel then it's time for us to part ways."
Seriously - he's going to abandon me when things are super crappy? AND he already has my $?
I am at a complete loss.
Today - my wife agreed to let me pick the kids up tomorrow IF I sign a notarized statement that reads:
August 5, 2015
I, XXXX , acknowledge and recognize YYYY as having permanent and full custody of our children A, B, and C. I acknowledge I only have visitation to the children listed above. I understand this agreement is only for the following dates and times for visitations with my children.
Pick up: Weds. 8/5/2015 8:00 am - Drop off: Sat. 8/8/2015 9:00 pm
Pick up: Thur. 8/13/2015 8:00 am - Drop Off: Sun. 8/16/2015 9:00 pm
I acknowledge I will be in violation of my visitation if I do not adhere to this agreement. I acknowledge law enforcement will pick up and take my children away from me if I am violation of this agreement.
How binding is that agreement, when signed and notarized? I just want to see my kids! But I do not want to acknowledge that she has permanent and full custody. But she demands that is what the agreement has to say, or she will not allow me to see the kids.
I also don't want the kids to be taken from me by the police.
I'm in Utah.
I know this is a loaded question - but i am at my wits end, and need somebodys help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Anyone at all?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. There's really not enough information here to say that you made a mistake. You can only act based on what you know at a given point in time, and you couldn't know that all of this would happen.
First, and more importantly: THAT AGREEMENT IS 100% BINDING AND ENFORCEABLE IF YOU SIGN IT. You should never, EVER sign anything you don't agree to, because a judge can hold you to it later. And when you have a lawyer, you also shouldn't sign anything without consulting with him. If I had a client who was seeking joint custody and visitation, and he signed a paper that said something like that without talking to me about it, I'd fire him on the spot.
Opposing counsel, I'm sorry to say, is ethically obligated to do what is best for his client. If his client—your ex—is directing him to drag things out, ignore your calls, and generally treat you horribly, then he unfortunately is allowed to do that. But that doesn't have any impact on whether you can file motions and documentation trying to get the case to move forward. They can drag their feet, but you don't have to sit back and take it.
As far as your lawyer goes, if he's already put in an appearance in the case with the court, he needs the judge's permission to withdraw. That means filing a motion. He's required to return any unused portion of what you've already paid him and return all documents related to your case. You're allowed to hire a new lawyer at any time if he's not helping you. Sometimes it helps to have one last conversation where you sit down and try to work things out, get an accounting of the work done so you can see it. I know it sometimes doesn't feel like anything's happening, but if he's calling the other lawyer and leaving messages or sending emails every day, that can eat up your retainer even if they don't answer. Either way, based on your last conversation, you may want to see where things stand. If he thinks you're parting ways, he's not working on your case.
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