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Attorney2, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 7212
Experience:  29 Years Experience in Family Law
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I was hoping that with our prior conversation with a fire

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RobertI was hoping that with our prior conversation with a fire conversation history in which you might be able to read, if you can help me with the below questions. I did ask the questions on the JustAnswer app however I am hoping for a second opinion as I am in a very difficult situation.
I just asked a question on Please check out my recent conversation with a Lawyer on I Received a notice of being sued by attorney general on/about 07.26.2017. I am the custodial parent of an 11-year-old autistic son. Father is the noncustodial parent that is required to pay child support According to our current custody agreement. We divorced about seven years ago with primary custody being awarded to me and father only receives visitation. Even though the court documents state that we have joint custody he, I have been awarded all decision-making abilities for the child since father has been found guilty of neglect and abuse in the past. I make all decisions regarding the child's residence, health, education, and physical or emotional needs. In the last seven years of being divorced, father has tried everything in his power to avoid paying any child support. He would rather pay for expensive attorneys to try to get out of the child support obligation, however, in court he has only gotten the child support increased instead of removed like he wanted. 1.5 years ago we went to court in which he had sued me asking to reduce the child support. and the legal process a request forn garnishing his medical records and with his testimony on the stand the judge actually increased his child some more dramatically because he was refusing to pay, my child has special needs, and he was refusing to pay 1/2 of my sons after school daycare. In addition he was refusing to keep just standard medical insurance for my son even though it was available to him at no cost through the military/army.You: Sorry… The message sent before I could finish and edit.Michael J, Esq.: Hello and thank you for contacting JustAnswer. My name is Michael; I look forward to assisting you today. By continuing, you acknowledge that I am not providing legal advice and can only comment on the law in general. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. What legal question do you have regarding this child support issue? Thanks! MichaelYou: Due to a life/death situation in which father was extremely abusive and neglectful to my son on/about five weeks ago, I was forced to get an emergency restraining order and an emergency no visitation order. We have an initial hearing scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, 2017 because the emergency restraining order expires after 14 days? (Or at least that is what I think… I am not sure… If you can advise me on that that would be great) My point is that I notify the attorney general that the hearing was being held in family law court on September 13 for the matter of Cassidy and also child support arrears of over $12,000. In addition father has not maintained the medical insurance required for my son. My main question is how do I get the Attorney General to drop their case Schedule for tomorrow September 12th so that I can just have everything heard in the initial hearing for the 13th? I have tried calling them and I cannot get through and I sent an official notice regarding the new case being brought to court several weeks ago.Michael J, Esq.: Please explain what the attorney general case is. Thanks.You: My ex-husband called the attorney general to request that the child support rep be reduced to $0.00because he thinks that if he quits his job he can get out of paying child support. They asked him to fill out some paperwork and told him that they would allow him to have a hearing in court to re-assess the amount of child support. I then got the paperwork and was served stating " suit for modification of support order and motion to confirm support arrearage."You: 1st pageMichael J, Esq.: Okay, and you're asking if you can get the AG to drop their case which is being brought on behalf of the father because you have an arrears case already set?You: Doc 2You: YesYou: It ridiculous to use the services of the attorney general when we already have an existing family law matter
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Family Law
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Michael: Thank you.
With a day's notice, it's impossible to get the case dropped or continued. You must show or you will lose the case. How long ago were you given notice?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
It's a long arduous story. My Ex
Threatening me daily. Banging on my doors and windows, slashing tires, etc.Police were involved multiple times per day and multiple days in a row. My ex then kidnapped my son and wouldn't return him. It took a writ of Habeus Corpus to get my son back finally. Then my employer was called by him and I got "let go"
With no explanation. They just stated they didn't want to be involved with my "personal" matter and let me go. This is the third time my ex-husband has cost me a job.I was sitting jobless, no money, a stressful and threatening situation. My son and I both in danger.I was forced financially to pack up and move to California to live with family.My son, ex-husband, and I are from California and nine years ago my ex-husband joined the military army reserve and was sent to San Antonio Texas for military training and service. Shortly after he moved us to San Antonio away from our home in California he was abusive and left bruises all over my 2 1/2 year-old son. I filed for divorce shortly there after but was forced to stay in San Antonio due to his military standing. In the last six months my ex
Has officially exited the military and is no longer associated with the army/Army reserve. He is back to civilian status.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I read this previous thread with the other expert. Are you asking about how to address this hearing tomorrow?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I have a hearing that is tomorrow that was initiated by my ex-husband through the attorney general to get Child support lowered.And then I'm also I'm asking how to address the hearing on Wednesday 09.13.2017 at 9:00
AM for initial hearing in family law court on several pleadings.1. Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship. It is being requested due to extreme
Danger father has placed child in. It is an effort to either remove
Father's visitation to either "supervised visits" or no "overnight visits." This is all due to documented history child neglect and abuse. It has been a requested that I be appointed as sole managing conservator.
They current order is issued as joint managing conservator or ship between a father and I, however, I was granted all exclusive rights to designate primary residence, all decisions regarding health, mental, and educational needs. So basically the current order that was signed in June 2015 is worded as joint managing conservator ship, however, it was written with the intent to operate as a sole managing conservatorship order. The attorney initially did in 2015 to reduce an explosive response from my ex-husband in the pleading request.Currently, we are operating under a TRO against father with no visitation of the child. It was submitted once with 14 day limitation. Then the attorney I hired, did not serve father until 5:35 pm the night before the scheduled initial hearing but failed to tell me. I showed up for court on 08.30.2017 Ana my attorney was there in the hallway alone. He tried to tell me that he spoke to my ex husbands attorney and "they agreed to extend the TRO since he had just been retained the night before." He told me to turn around and go home and it was no big deal. I called his firm and spoke to his legal assistant and she gave me a copy of the "proof of service" and it shows that my attorney never even gave the paperwork to the server until Monday evening before the hearing that was originally set 2 days later on Wednesday. My ex was served on Tuesday at 5:35 pm. That only gave the other party 15 hours of notice at most and not remotely close to the three-day required notice.So an entire court date in which I took off of work was thrown out of the window in which I absolutely needed that hearing to occur that day. Up to that point my ex was harassing me and my son and had kidnapped him once in that period. I really NEEDED that case needed to be heard by a judge to put my son and I in a better situation that was safer.2. Motion for enforcement of child support and order to appear. -father is over 12k in arrears.3. Motion for enforcement/violation medical insurance for the child. -father has canceled the child's medical Insurance And refuses to get insurance for the child. The child is special needs and medical insurance is extremely crucial and not offered through my employment but is offered to father.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I lost my job with the harassment from ex, and with the daily harassment from my ex, and him almost breaking all windows in my house and stalking me. He tried to get my son to kill me with a pocket knife, poor results with the courts and family law system, a poor attorney that had good reviews online but is clearly not a good attorney, a TRO that the police would not enforce even when father was caught clearly violating it in many ways, I had no Choice than for my and my sons well-being to pack up my things and move to California to live with family. At least in California I have a home to live in, better financial situation, access to medical insurance, and a fantastic job opportunity that would put my son and I in a better place.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

I appreciate the detailed reply. With respect to the hearing tomorrow, the only thing I can thing I think you can do tomorrow is send in an Emergency Motion to Appear Telephonically and request that the judge allow you to call in because you are not living out of state. It's very last minute at this point, so I cannot even guarantee that it would work - but I don't know what else you could do at this point. And I understand the circumstances --you were living there before your ex cost you your job and you needed a place to live, family support, a good job, etc. I don't question your motives at all, I'm just telling you usually these motions are not filed at the last minute.

I'm not sure what you what mean by how to address the hearing for 9/13. Are you asking how to approach the matter? The judge is going to want to hear from both of you on the matter. As the petitioner, you have the burden of proof. Changing the custody order requires showing a substantial change in circumstances since the previous order and that it would be in the best interest of your child to do so. I think given everything you told me there's certainly enough to ask for at least no overnight visitation if not supervised visitation only.

Child support -- the father is under a court order to pay, he isn't paying. Unless dad has some legitimate reason for not paying (e.g., he suffered a severe injury and hasn't been able to work) the court could find him in contempt and assess sanctions.

Father is clearly employed and has access to insurance. If he has been court ordered to carry it for the child, all you have to say (much like child support) is "Your Honor, our court order of ________ says that father is supposed to provide medical insurance for the child. Father has insurance through his job, which I do not. Despite this, father cancelled the insurance for the child and refuses to provide it in violation of the Order."

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Ok. I have a 2 hour advance in time zones do call the courts first thing in the morning to try and request the ability to Appear Telephonically. Do you know where I might be able to locate a template for submitting the pleading?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
The hearing is not until 1:30 PM central standard time so it might buy me a little time.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
As for the hearing on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 9 AM I am quite stuck on what to do for this hearing.I am out of state and am in a financial crisis, so much so, I can't afford a plane ticket back to Texas for this hearing at least for this Wednesday. I need more time to try and either get a new attorney or prepare my pleadings as pro-se. The current attorney of which I have already retained has dropped the ball and refuses to call me or email me. He will not officially withdraw from the case but doesn't seem interested in representing my case either. It's like he got paid the $3100 and then did not want to do any further work on the case. Hence the whole issue with my ex never being served with the appropriate notice of hearing date.So with that in mind, the fact that my attorney has stopped all communication, he was the one who's requested this hearing date without any communication with me. I had to call the courts just to find out when the court date was actually scheduled. He wouldn't tell me and neither would his legal secretary. Additionally, is you consider me being in financial crisis which has fixers me to be out of state, Can I not ask for an " Extension?" I need more time to be able to obtain new legal counsel or time to prepare If I am to
represent myself Pro-Se.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

This is a motion (and Order) form used in Florida, but you can type something like this. It doesn't have to be fancy. I would definitely try to call though tomorrow and explain that you had to move out of state and the only way you could attend today's hearing would be via telephone and that you are going to send over a motion and could they please bring it to the judge's attention immediately.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

Your attorney cannot simply choose to not show up. He is representing you in the matter. If they fail to show it would constitute legal malpractice.

You really shouldn't be filing a motion "pro se" in that matter because you aren't actually pro-se and are represented by counsel, but if they won't call you back and won't even tell you whether they will be at the hearing or not, again the only thing I can tell you is to file a motion for an extension and explain in the motion that you have not had any contact with your lawyer since __________ date, they have not indicated they are withdrawing but also have not indicated whether they intend to appear and you are operating under the assumption they are not, and you have notified them that their services have been terminated, effective immediately. Therefore, you are requesting that you be allowed a one-time extension to either find new counsel or prepare to represent yourself.

You would want to add that the motion for extension of time is brought in good faith and not for purposes of delay. I would also recommend that before you file the motion, you contact opposing counsel's office and ask if they object to an extension.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Ok. That is perfect. I have typed and prepared a motion off of a template so I will use both templates to complete the form tonight. Then I will call first thing in the morning and explain the situation like you mentioned above.Actually, now that I think about it I think that it is honored that the Attorney General did not end up dropping their schedule a court hearing because my attorneys legal secretary stated that they notified the attorney general of the new family law matter when I had initially retained their services. I was told by the legal secretary that the attorney general would most likely drop their case and let it be her in the family law matter we were already addressing.But now with all the difficulties in communication and their failure to serve the other party with appropriate notice I'm wondering if that step was actually never completed. I would I assume that you have the attorney general had several weeks notice that the case was already being heard in family court regarding the child support arrearage and enforcement then they would most likely "wait for the ruling from the judge" before
They proceed since, in that situation it is using court and county resources and either parties are being represented by attorneys.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

And assuming the judge will let you appear via telephone, you can explain that you were told by your lawyer that the AG's office had been notified of the other hearing and was assured this hearing would be cancelled, but then learned at the last minute this apparently was never done. It's possible the AG's attorney will agree to drop the matter or agree to a continuance pending the resolution of the hearing on 9/13.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Ok. Perfect. I think I have a good strategy for
The OAG case set for tomorrow.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
It is the hearing set for Wednesday that I'm still
A little insure about. I can't tell what this attorney is planning to do. Even for the last hearing that my attorney has set, he didn't communicate with me prior. I tried on several accounts to speak with him and email him to ask about preparing for the hearing and what the angle was, but he wouldn't respond. I drove all the way downtown, parked and went in for the hearing and that is when my attorney was in the hall waiting on docket to be called on another case he is working on Ana pulled me aside and just said that the spoke to my ex's
Attorney and they agreed to extend the TRO and reset the hearing and then rudely told me to leave.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Even without communication I worry he is going to show up because of fear of legal malpractice but I won't know until the last minute.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
what do in both scenarios. Situation 1: if attorney shows or
Situation 2: I just immediately just terminate the current attorney effective immediately?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

Yea, he's left you in a very poor position by not contacting you or letting you know what the plan is. It is arguably malpractice now to not contact you or adequately prepare.

If the attorney shows, he speaks for you. Typically a judge won't let you talk. All you could really do is either a) have him ask for a continuance and hope that opposing counsel doesn't object and the judge goes for it, or b) fire him when you see him and then he tells the judge that you have just terminated him and then again you have to hope that the judge will allow a continuance. It really is the judge's decision to make.

If you fire the attorney now, it's one day before the hearing --you can file a motion for a continuance last minute and ask for an extension and explain why you need it -no contact from your lawyer and his resulting termination of service etc.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I'm just trying to decide if I go ahead and proceed "in writing" and fire my attorney immediately as of
Tomorrow and then for Wednesday hearing explaining The situation to the judge and hope
...along with
...plead for a continuance/extension. Or do I sit here and wonder and just wait for Wednesday on whether he will show up or not?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I don't know if it is important to add… Due to lack of communication by this attorney and/or his legal secretary, he is not aware that I am currently out of state.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.

I think he will likely show up (he did last time, after all). The problem I think you're struggling with is you don't know what he's going to say at all or how he intends to approach it. Things like the medical insurance and child support should be easy -he's court ordered to pay, the ex isn't paying, the judge should grant those. It's the request for overnight/supervised visitation that is important.

And yes, I think that is important if your attorney is expecting you to try and let them know, but it's not like you haven't tried. You can try again tomorrow -calling and emailing, see if they will contact you?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I tried calling my attorney's office this morning like you had advised and I got voicemail so I also sent an email.Surprisingly I got a response from my attorney but his response is a bit perplexing. This is how he responded:I am appearing for you at the hearing today for the attorney general case. You don’t need to be there. You need to respond to our communication or we will be withdrawing from your case. Additionally, you are required to immediately provide payment of an additional $5,000.00 to replenish your retainer. You can go onto our website to make a credit card payment.The hearing that was scheduled by my offices for tomorrow needs to be moved because the court’s docket is full. We anticipate having a new date for the hearing by the end of the day. Karin, my legal assistant, will notify you, and give you possible times for hearing preparation. If you do not respond and make it possible for me to prepare for this hearing with you I will be withdrawing immediately after the hearing.Shawn H. SmithThat is such a strange response on so many levels.1. I have tried calling and emailing their office many times with no response but yet he is stating in his email that if I do not communicate with him he is withdrawing. It is as though he is trying to build an argument/case, of a way to formally withdraw from my case without legal malpractice stating it was my fault for lack of communication instead of the other way around. Am I interpreting this correctly?2. With Texas being a docket system, my attorney would not know that the docket was full in advance like he is eluding in his email. It is my understanding on how docket works, neither parties or counsel would know whether the case could be heard or not heard by a judge assigned that day, until that morning at 8:30 AM once docket is called in the presiding court room. If the case could not be heard that morning then all parties would have to show back up to the presiding court room at 1:30 PM for afternoon docket to be called. -I get the impression that he is being completely misleading about the court hearing and he is delaying the hearing yet again like the first time. Again, trying to provide a fake/phoney reason as to why he has cancelled and had intentions of resetting the hearing all along.It actually sounds more like he simply called my ex-husband's representing attorney and
simply asked them to agree to a Rule 11 agreement to reset. He keeps trying to delay the hearing and keeps wanting to send me a new invoice for an additional $5000 but yet he refuses to provide me an invoice explaining or showing how the initial $5000 retainer was used. I don't feel he has shown good
Faith whatsoever in earning the original retained amount of $5,000! I retained him on Aug. 16th and all he has done is go to court on the afternoon of the 17th in an emergency exparte hearing and requested a TRO until initial hearing 14
Days later. Then on that day he just asking opposing counsel to agree to extend the current emergency exparte TRO for 14 more days which brought us to a new court date of Sept. 13th, (in which he lied and told me the reason court was reset was "because my ex had just retained his attorney the night before court was set for Aug 30th and his attorney needed more time to prepare." I later called him in a lie when I found out that he had never been served my ex-husband within the 3 day advance notice requirement. From the process server shows that documents not serve until 5:35 PM August 29th. That is how I thought my life gave me for resetting August 30th hearing.
And now in this email it sounds like he is doing the same exact thing. He is resetting it again. It just feels like he is playing a game to keep extending my hearing date until he can try to get more money out of me and yet I don't feel like he has earned it for $5000 I have already paid him.At this point I don't know what to do. I have no idea what occurred at the hearing today for the attorney general hearing that was set. I'm having a hard time believing anything this attorney tells me and honestly I'm not sure if he even showed up to the hearing like he states. He seemed all too anxious and eager to say he will attend hearing for me and that I do not need to be there. And now he is stating that there is a 11 agreement from today but that he will have to get back to me with the terms of the rule 11 agreement once the other attorney signs. Don't I, as the client, I have to agree what is being put in a rule 11 agreement?All of this feels so wrong and not normal procedure like I have experienced in the past.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
If it is easier can you do a phone consultation?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 month ago.


I did get your messages, yes, unfortunately I have been out of town (was actually supposed to be on a cruise ship that got cancelled during the storm, but still traveling) and I've been largely not working and dealing with limited internet service. Given that time is of the essence and I don't know how much I am going to be available -and I don't wish to cause you unnecessary delay - I will opt out so that the question can be re-posted and opened back up to other experts.

Please don't reply back to this message, as that could send the question right back me to answer and other experts may not be able to assist you then.

Sorry for the inconvenience. No need to remain online - you will be notified when an expert replies.

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

I am a different Attorney and wanted to see if I could assist you. Please let me know.