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Going through process of divorce. Husband has an attorney. I…

Going through process of divorce...
Going through process of divorce. Husband has an attorney. I do not. I had met with an attorney and he said we really didn't have much to argue over. Judge said she didn't know why people go in debt to fight over money they don't have. I don't want to go in debt. I am trying to buy a house for my son and I - great deal - but my husband is stalling me. Lenders want a signed separation agreement and a letter to explain a cash deposit, and my husband is not cooperating. During scheduling session, judge said I should be represented.
1) can I get through this without a attorney representing me?
2) Is it wrong to purchase a house at this time?
3) Is it possible that I could end up paying all or part of his lawyer fees?
4) He already has possession of family collections that he paid cash for - meanwhile he is freely using shared money without my consent or knowledge. Does he own the collections?
5) How do I do a discovery and can I do that before court scheduled mediation on April 12?
6) He has some dirty laundry. I do not. Should I prepare to use that?
7) Do I have to stay grounded - meaning no trips or recreational spending?
8) In text he said, "Should i be in fear for my safety?" I called his bluff and said he was acting like my sister. I said, "I am in fear for my life, you might come after me with a gun." Completely kidding to offset his ridiculous statement. What is he trying to do?
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Answered in 8 minutes by:
3/14/2018
Sean K
Sean K, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 418
Experience: Family Law Attorney in Private Law Firm
Verified

Hi, I’m Sean and I will be assisting you as an expert today. I’m an attorney with more than 20 years of experience. It is my goal to provide a solid overview of your situation. Whether the analysis is good or bad as to your matter, I want to make sure you understand any points you need and that you have options to better address the questions you have. If I am able, I will also provide you with some resources. Please note that the system, independent from me, may offer a phone call. You are not obligated to engage in a phone call, but I am happy to speak if you desire. This is completely up to you.

Give me a few moments and I will answer your questions in the order you have presented them. That being said, it appears your husband is playing hard ball. This doesn't mean he will be entitled to more, but it is a common tactic that is used in hopes of overwhelming someone and either getting them to an agreement that may not be fair or to sometimes just have them give up because they don't know what to do.

Nothing he is attempting it overly unique and individually, it is not too burdensome, but for it all to happen at once, it can be daunting.

I will get to those answers now.

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Can you get through this without an attorney?

The answer is yes, but the real question is should you? My opinion is that unless there is an agreement between parties then you need to make sure someone on your side is protecting your rights. If he has an attorney that attorney is working in his best interest and his best interest may not be your best interest. An attorney can address not only a plan, but the real time answers, and approaches, to the things that come up in litigation.

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2 - Is it wrong to purchase a home at this time?

That is a question that comes up quite frequently. I am always reluctant to have people make any major life changes during a divorce as it can have an impact on a divorce or perhaps even create an argument that there is an interest in newly purchased property. Not always the case, but if there is something to argue about, it can cloud the real issues.

It is always best to put the divorce chapter behind you first if your spouse is making the divorce process overly complicated.

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3 - Could you have to pay any or all of this fees?

It is not possible for me to tell specifically from the facts of this question, but family courts generally do have the power to award attorneys' fees. Doesn't mean they always do, but they can. So could a court do so in your case? Yes, the authority id there. Do they do it in every case? No. However, this is the main reason you need an attorney looking out for your rights. Often attorneys on the other side of a case will go so far as to carefully build a fee case against another party and unless you know exactly what to look for, you may end up in a position where a court could consider fees.

The benefit for you is that if you have an attorney handling you case and working to protect your fee exposure and building your fee case, you are in the best position possible.

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4- Possession of collections and shared money usage.

If the collections were obtained in the marriage, even if cash was paid for them, if the cash was earned in the marriage, those collections are likely marital property. The same with the shared money, if it was accumulated during the marriage, it may very likely be marital property.

This leads me to a question for you - are there any orders in place now? I ask because it is not unusual for there to be interim restraints on disposing property. If he is doing this, this is another are where an attorney could protect you interest.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
He has removed the gun and ball card collections from the home. He has not removed the marbles, coin collections

Discovery issues.

Discovery is generally comprised of written discovery in the form of questions (interrogatories) or request for documents. As well there may be subpoenas issued, requests for admissions or even depositions.

To perform discovery there are a specific set of rules know as the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure. All forms of discovery are governed under these rules or specific court rules. To serve them the rules need be followed and they must be in the proper form. Generally the time for response is 30 days.

If the 30 days apply, there is not enough time prior to mediation.

Discovery as it can be so rule specific is another reason why an attorney should be considered.

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Dirty Laundry

If there are bad facts you should create a timeline and overview of them and support them with any additional evidence you have -witnesses, text messaged, emails, photos, etc.

You don't have to use it, but being ready to use it is never a bad thing.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Should I let him know that I am considering this feed for the case?

Staying grounded

This goes back to the point I made earlier. The more routine you keep things and the more you avoid major life decisions or, plainly, the conspicuous use of case, the better for you.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
He was unfaithful. Should I pull that into play as well?

So finally to go full circle. I believe that he is trying to play fast and loose in the process to get you to settle. I believe he likely thinks you won't question his selling of items or the like. I also believe that as a result of the last text message exchange you said occurred that he is trying to bait you.

As to his being unfaithful, that does not surprise me, as that fits the bill on the approach you have said he is taking.

I believe the best thing for you to do is to minimize contact with him and go see an attorney as soon as possible.

Have all of the information you have addressed here available to discuss with the attorney.

What you need is someone on your behalf to organize your case and present it to his attorney and turn the tables on what he is attempting to do and potentially even have him made to pay all or a portion of your fees.

The last thing that you need to do is be bullied by him.

You appear to have good information to use against him, you just need someone to present it in the most effective fashion.

Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. There is no specific course of action is proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege formed within this conversation.

If you have any follow up questions it would be my pleasure to answer them. As experts we only get credit for the time and effort we spend on our answers if you rate us positively - 5 stars is definitely appreciated but not required! There is no cost associated with you rating me and you can still ask follow up questions after rating me and I will respond.

One final point, there may be a delay between your question and my answer; this is because I'm either not at my computer or helping someone else but rest assured, if you ask, I will provide an answer. Thank you again.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Sean, Unfortunately, I KNOW he doesn't have the resources to pay and I KNOW I don't have the resources to pay. We don't have the credit to pay either. We were discharged from Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012. So, unless his family is footing the bill, I don't know what we're arguing about except a difference of $100 per month because I've been soft on him. I know he's getting the better deal. I can handle it. If I cave, the difference between what I am asking over three years will score him approximately $5,100 plus repayment of half of his bonus for the year 2016 and 2017 ($12,000 in total) that he spent without my authorization or knowledge. That's all there is. Hardly worth all of this.So, the big question is, can I ask for the ridiculous? AND reimbursement of legal fees? We have two kids who could use this $ for education. I don't get it.

So you hit on a very important point. If the difference is $100 a month, a long hard look needs to be given as to the merits of perpetuating the argument.

I hate when I have to tell people this, but sometimes attorneys steer client's in this direction to increase the fees (makes it easier to defeat a claim of attorneys' if they were unnecessary which helps you) and it is also quite common for other parties to be paying his fees.

Your real question is as you put it and it really comes down to that. Does fighting about it to address the $5100 and the half of the bonus benefit you by compromising (or even offering to split the difference on the $100 a month?)

I believe from what you have said, you have a very strong case to fight all of his actions and likely call him to the carpet on many of the points.

I would suggest that if there a desire to settle, that rather than over the top offers, make something that is in your best interest, but that is not out of the question. The reason I say this is that if there is a formal offer made that is excessive, I have seen those types of offers used against people in the past on the issue of attorneys' fees. You do not want to give any ammunition to him on any point and particularly not this one.

As to the reimbursement of legal fees, if he continues to ask unreasonable and you have legal fees, I believe you would be well suited to have a claim against him. However, what I have seen happen in cases like this in the past is when someone like you who has been bullied and pushed around does get an attorney, then the person on the other side quickly retreats and becomes very reasonable.

The good thing for your position is that you seem to have the facts to pursue a case if you want, but also perhaps an opportunity to resolve it. Keep in mind that the best thing to do is always settle. It may be that one side really wants to, but if the other side doesn't show a reasonable path, you may have to protect yourself to get where you need to be.

Sean K
Sean K, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 418
Experience: Family Law Attorney in Private Law Firm
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Hi Sean,
When I got the mail at home last night, I had Notice of Service of Discovery, First Request for Production, Inspection and Copying of Documents, and Interrogatories. According to this, I have 30 days to produce a whole ton of stuff. This isn't a problem but waaayyyy overboard. My husband stands to gain only about $15,000 if I would have lost my meager requests. Offset that with lawyer fees and he's at about $10,000 over 3 years.They are requesting records back 3 years for most things. This raises a flag since it is now March. 3 years ago last month - February - I caught my husband in an affair. He asked me to keep it a secret for two years so as not to upset the family who was going through a long-term illness with a family member.Also, just past 30 days from now is our court-appointed mediation appointment. I don't have time to request the same from him before the mediation.How much of this do I HAVE to do in a timely fashion?
How far can I go in this process without legal representation?

Those are what is known as standard discovery. In all likelihood what has happened is that his attorney, or he, has decided to send this discovery out. In all likelihood, in an effort and attempt to overwhelm you and put you behind the eight ball. It is no coincidence that this has come at just over 30 days from the mediation. The reason for this is that they are hoping that you are not able to respond to the discovery prior to mediation and then you will be threatened with Motions to Compel and additional fees. Completely the wrong approach to take in these cases in my opinion, but I see this happen a great deal.

You can do this without an attorney, but the real question is - is it time for him to get a taste of his own medicine. For instance does he need to start worrying about paying your fees.

Your options-

1 - Dive in and respond as best you can.

2 - If you are not able to do it all in advance of mediation, you will want to request an extension of time from the attorney. He will likely be banking on you not realizing you can do this. He may not grant it, but it will protect you against a motion to compel.

3 - Go retain an attorney and let them start to do some of this to him and let him realize that you won't be pushed around.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Can I:
1) request to push the date for mediation to a later date?
2) some of the requests are ridiculous... like my medical records from dentists and gyno and rediculous.
3) can I put in my own Discovery request without an attorney by just copying the wording in his letter or does it have to be all fancy from a legal office?

It is absolutely acceptable to request a continuance of the mediation. I would do it in writing and copy the mediator and the other attorney. It is also perfectly acceptable to say that you have just been served discovery and you want to serve you own and that mediation will be more likely to resolve the matter when all discovery is done.

You can object to requests, but only as allowed under the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure. Fair warning, attorneys often interpret the rules in a liberal, or when required, restrictive manner to force hearings on them. As I said before, discovery is often about trying to overwhelm a person and force them to settle. If you do object, make sure it is in keeping with the rules.

The reason discovery is so broad is it is the mechanism by which cases are developed and for a request or question to be valid the standard is pretty low - generally is the request or question for an issue of the case or likely to lead to information on the issues of the case.

You can certainly do discovery on your own, but it will have to be in keeping with the applicable rules. This doesn't mean on fancy paper and from an attorney, but there are limits on what can be asked in total and you should be sure you are comfortable with this before doing it.

Keep in mind, you can represent yourself, but judges will expect you to know the rules the same as an attorney. Not always fair, but that it the standard that is used.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
if I copy the requests that his attorney made of me and request them of him, I would be covered in doing my own discovery request, right? Or is it possible that what he requested only applies to me for some reason?

Do understand that I cannot answer without seeing the requests, but if you simply copied and adapted them to him, that would not in anyway be improper. Make sure that there is nothing specific to you. For example, if he asked for all records of your employment at Company ABC and your ex works for Company 123, then you would get nothing in return. Or if it was all records from Dr. Smith and you ask that of you ex and he goes to Dr. Jones, then you would receive no information.

However, it is common to use the discovery provided as a foundation for return discovery.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Okay. Got it.
Thanks for your help.

Absolutely!

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
oops. One more question. In the Discovery request I received, it says 3 years on most things and 5years on others. Are the number of years dictated by some court rules or can I go back further to get the affair and his records from the company he started that was a conflict of interest to his job?

So it has been my experience that the 3 and 5 year time frames are probably the standard that are used - essentially as it is hard to argue those limits. I see those timeframes all the time. You can go back further, but be sure to, if asked, have a reason for the longer timeframe.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I’ve decided to give up and sign the only offer he has given regarding support. I would still like to render discovery on hime to see about other accounts he has. He has issues discovery that even asks for my dental records. If i do this do i need to go to court? Will I still need yo complete his swooping discovery requests?

If the case is concluded with an offer, make sure that the offer includes that the discovery is waived and then it will be void.

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Customer reply replied 28 days ago
Hi Sean,
I'm trying to determine how long I can wait to give up/give in to my husband's meager support offer...1) He told my daughter that the reason he is taking me to court is on the grounds that I verbally agreed to the terms of an agreement and then changed my mind when I typed it up. He said that is a contract and I broke the verbal contract. I said, the agreement is not a contract until it is signed by both of us and notarized. Who is right?2) When shifting our court appointed mediation appointment two weeks ahead so I can render Discovery, I asked if I needed to send a copy of the request to his attorney. I was told by the appointment secretary that - since I wasn't represented by an attorney, my husband was also not being represented by an attorney at this mediation. Is it possible that he is throwing up scare screens and has actually dropped his legal counsel?3) What smoke screens can I throw in his way so that I don't have to answer all of his ridiculous discovery requests?Thanks for your ideas.

Certainly

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Customer reply replied 28 days ago
Did you send an answer?

Not sure where that went.

Here we go again.

First, huge problem with discussing the case with your daughter. Period. Secondly, I take the position that in family law a contract, if not reduced to writing, is nothing more than an offer and settlement discussion are not admissible at Court. Period.

It is possible he has dropped his legal counsel, but is also not unusual for an attorney not to come to mediation if the other side does not have an attorney. What concerns me is that if discovery is going to be served, the attorney would absolutely want it. I would check in the Court's file and see if the attorney has filed a Motion to relieve counsel.

If there are questions that require you to get records, say that "The records are not in your possession." If it is overburdensome, say so. If the information does not exist, say so. If you don't know the answer say so.

The balance is to be careful that you do answer properly. If you do responses like that will be viewed as acceptable.

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Customer reply replied 28 days ago
Wow. Thank you very much!

you are welcome!

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
I prepared my own discovery paper work by scanning the discovery doc that was sent to me and changing the order - from me to him instead of him to me. Are there any copyright issues that I will face for doing that?

Just make sure that the changes are specific to his client. No issues with doing this. Happens all of the time.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Great! Thank you.

good luck!

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Customer reply replied 22 days ago
I mailed discovery papers to my husband yesterday. Heading into court appointed mediation on May 2, when is it smartest to enlist an attorney to speak for me? Before mediation or after? So far, he is going to mediation without legal representation since i have no attorney.

I think the balance would be to speak to one prior to mediation and have them available during if questions come up and ready to go afterward if you need.

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Customer reply replied 21 days ago
Thank you.

Of course.

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