Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
Good day, my name is Brandon. I am a licensed attorney, and happy to help. Has your friend seen any of the court documents related to the divorce?
Thank you. Let me look it over briefly.
Thank you. The first thing to understand is that she can't count on the lawyer to help her. The lawyer has no duty to her whatsoever; only to the lawyer's own client. I'm sorry to say that anything the lawyer says is meaningless and it was an unfortunate mistake to rely on him for information or help.
So, based on that first page you sent, the court is saying that she was notified by "substituted service." Substituted service is when the party isn't notified directly, but someone else is notified on their behalf. An example would be if someone comes to your home and leaves the documents with a family member instead of you. That's the claim anyway.
The document was date stamped June 29, 2016. When did she actually receive this copy?
I can't say who received the notice, and I'm not even saying that anyone really did. She can contact the court where it was filed and ask for a copy of the entire case file; it will include a proof of service and show who allegedly served whom, and when.
I'm also not going to say that his attorney did anything wrong, but I am saying that the lawyer has no duty to anyone who is not his client. The lawyer can hypothetically say "sure, I'll look at it and get back to you", and then do nothing because there is no duty there.
I'm very concerned about what was decided at court while she wasn't present. My recommendation is for her to immediately contact a family law attorney in the county where the divorce was held to get the decree vacated. I also recommend that she immediately contact the court to make arrangements to get a copy of the case file. Every court is different; some courts require you to appear in person to make the photocopy, while others will copy and mail to you for a fee, and others yet have the information online. Regardless of this court's system, she needs to see what happened and get an attorney to straighten it out. The good news is that this type of thing tends to happen in family law cases, so it won't be a shock to the court if she says that she was never served. The judges are usually uncomfortable making decisions when a party doesn't show up, so for any given case, a "do over" is oftentimes possible.
I hope that makes sense. Let me know if further clarification is needed, and please feel free to leave a positive rating if you are satisfied with my answers. Thank you!