The New Attorney

The New Attorney

I called my X’s new attorney this morning because I wanted to inquire about the court order that his office was instructed to prepare.  I felt uncomfortable entering the weekend without a court order detailing the new arrangement.  I was told that it was prepared yesterday and mailed.  With that information, I went to my post office box and found the order.

It was wrong. 

The seventh item stated the following:

X shall notify Tina Swithin at least 24 hours in advance of his scheduled visitation if he is not going to exercise his visitation with the minor children.

It should read:

The Petitioner shall email the Respondent 24 hours in advance to let her know he will exercise visitation, if no email is received visitation is cancelled.

While it seems like a small issue, it isn’t.  My X often stands us up with no prior notice.  The judge put this order into effect for a reason.  I read the paperwork and it said, “if you have any questions or changes, please advise”.  I called the attorney’s office and was met with a snooty response by the receptionist who is clearly not my biggest fan.  The feeling is mutual.  I notified her of the error and asked what to do.  “Nothing” she stated.  “Nothing”, I asked.  “It says to notify you if there are any needed changes within 10 days”, I said.  “We aren’t going to change it”, she responded.

Deep breath.

I asked her to have Mr. Attorney call me and he did.  Mr. Attorney was condescending and insisted that I was wrong.  I held firm.  He stated that this is a standard order used with the majority of his clients.  I argued that X was not a “standard client” and that the order was put in place for a reason– by the commissioner.  He then tried to play hardball with me and said, “If you want to go this route, we can go ahead and leave the order as-is (this meant they wouldn’t agree to change the time from 10am-4pm to 11am-5pm so that my daughters could attend church with me)”.  I didn’t waver under his threat.  “That’s fine, Mr. Attorney.  I am happy to take this back in front of the judge.  Go for it.”

He then stated he would call “his client”.  Minutes later, he called back and admitted that I was correct and that they would change the orders.

I can play this game also and refuse to waiver.


6 Responses

  1. Tina, I am so glad for you that you were able to hold firm and get things straight. Hope they follow through. I read your posts when I can; I don’t understand the commissioner, who that is, the whys and wherefores, but my own opinion is that laww isn’t sensible and isn’t going to soon change. I have to get back to your post regarding the petition, but I agree that changes need to be made; it’s all supposedly “for the children” … that is laughable at best. Threatening a parent through their children if the parent won’t cave … WHAT is wrong with “people”? Hope you have a good and peaceful weekend.

  2. It almost seems as is your Ex is caving in a bit? Agreeing to the change, admitting you are right? I am sure it won’t last but enjoy it for the moment it is there.

  3. It’s so sad the time and energy wasted on having to fight for your right to have your life back! If the rights of the Primary Carer were acknowledged and the other parent had a genuine interest in the well being with their children then the simplest thing would be to allow the primary carer suggest access in a way that both they and the children were not always held to ransom. The sad thing is with NPD’s its about control and dominance and if you say black they say right. As regards committing perjury, I think they actually recreate reality each minute for themselves and believe their own lies and illusions, you are left with your mouth open and even in the face of proof they do not budge. Shameless! However SHAME on those Attorneys who for a fee allow themselves to abuse the mother and children under the name of law! Is this access now unsupervised? What would happen if the children just refuse to go?

  4. The person who prepares the order after hearing (whether it is your x, his attorney, or you) needs to follow the Minutes from the Hearing. You can get a copy of those from the Commissioner’s clerk. (Simply request them.) Then, if that new attorney puts things into the order that do not reflect what took place, you can write to the commissioner and object to the Prepared Order and make reference to the Minutes. The fact that the attorney has “a standard order” he uses is absolutely not a reason to change what the commissioner ordered. Obvious bullying!
    Consider, at your next hearing, asking the commissioner at the end (just before your turn ends) if you can be the one who writes up the order. The self help center at the court house will help you for free. They will give you the forms and explain how to do it, and even check it after you have done it. This way you can be sure it is done right.
    Remember that your x has to pay that attorney (presumably) for every minute he spends. So every minute of that arrogance you had to put up with on the phone was costing your X. Even a brief isolated second of arrogance will typically cost your X .1 hours of the attorney’s time (which could be as high as $350 or $400 per hour. So if the commissioner has him prepare the next order and he pulls the same nonsense, just keep calling until he gets it right. Do not be intimidated. All that attorney wants to do is make money off your X. Let him get on with that! If you have to call his office 10 times because he is trying to put things in the order that were never said, don’t give up. Ask for him by name, and explain why you disagree without ever losing your cool. Act like you’re used to this sort of thing. And email as well, being very very careful to stick to the facts. (Any email can be used in court.) Very matter of fact: “The Minutes from the Hearing said ****. You wrote @@@@. Please change this.” Attorneys typically bill to click on an email, even if it takes about 5 seconds to read it. They charge their minimum amount, not for 5 seconds.

    It is time-consuming to learn how to write legal documents as you have discovered, but it is empowering and will help you shift the balance of power in your case over time. Never let yourself be intimidated by that attorney. He may be a master at twisting facts, but no one will ever know your case as well as you do and that will give you power as well. The attorney will be juggling the facts of a lot of cases and will never have your case perfectly straight … but you will. This can help you in court. Be prepared for him to make stuff up. Wait your turn politely and then correct the record.”Your honor, what actually took place was …” (Not necessarily on small things that don’t really matter because you don’t want to annoy the commissioner … but whenever yo judge that it matters, set the record straight. Use dates if possible. Very calm no matter how infuriated you are. Very matter of fact and respectful. That attorney wants you to get emotional so he can roll his eyes and suggest this is the sort of thing your poor X has to deal with. Never go there. Be so professional the court staff start to forget you aren’t a lawyer.

    ~ going through the same thing

  5. Good for you to have the strength for this. They count on people getting fatigued. As you know, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Your endurance is admirable and your greatest strength.

  6. April is right. I keep saying to myself “I only have to last 5 minutes more than him”…keep going.