How do I deal with my Lawyer in this situation?
August 15, 2010 7:40 AM Subscribe
My lawyer is holding a garnishment her office managed to get from ex h's bank. She is requiring me to sign the garnishment completely over to her for her to go toward her fees...but the ex is supposed to be responsible for her fees.
posted by anonymous to law & government (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Backstory: I was divorced 11 years ago. I was very stupid and agreed to a paralegal divorce after 24+ years of marriage. (No children) My ex bullied me into taking nothing of his rather decent retirement. I agreed, as long as I could have 1/2 of what was left in the equity of our house. It wasn't a lot of money (it would have been 18 grand to me)..and unbelievably instead of selling the house (then) he refinanced the house and got 3/4's of the proceeds and then went bankrupt. He tried to get out of everything and leave me penniless. I did have my divorce papers and a prommissary note, however!
So...three years ago I got a lawyer to go to court with me over the issue and though she made the court understand that ex could not bankrupt out of something in our marriage dissolution she coerced me into taking 1/2 of what ex owed me (9,000) in installments of 300 per month. I hated this, but she told me she was leaving for Japan the next day and that I had to take the deal. I also had to pay her legal fees (but I realized that without her I would have gotten nothing at all).
After 2.5 years ex stopped paying and I allowed a "moratorium" because he got laid off. The ex h and I were barely speaking, but he seemed forthcoming when told me that he had a lawsuit against his employer pending and that if he won it he would pay me in full. I believed him. Fast forward to recently, he did indeed win a settlement and suddenly he chose this as the time to conveniently "have issues" with me and stop communicating with me. I realized that if I wanted to see any of the money ex has owed me for years I would have to enforce the stipulated judgement against him that provided if he stopped paying everything would come due along with interest and attorneys fees.
I contacted my attorney and via emails she got details from me and would occasionally call the people I had knowledge about (my ex's attorney for example). I was really upset that the ex was clearly trying to avoid paying me all together AGAIN. From the start I told her that I needed him to pay her fees, (and the stipulated judgement says that he must). My lawyer was very difficult to reach throughout this whole renewed situation and I would email like once every two weeks to ask if and when she would garnish the balance of what he owed me and also interest and attorneys fees. I was learning through the grapevine that the settlement was imminent. She finally put forth a garnishment but it was too late because he had already been paid. -This was so aggravating to me because I really need the money and she missed intercepting the money from ex's employer.
Surprisingly, the ex finally sent me the check. I believe he was motivated to do so by learning an attorney had sent out a garnishment. He has absolutely no property, so he is judgement proof. I was glad to get the funds and I reported it to her. I learned from ex's daughter that the settlement he recieived was a decent one so I asked the lawyer to also garnish for interest (an additional 1,000) and of course, for her fees. Her office successfully garnished for the interest. The other day she sent me a cryptic email telling me that I must come in to her office to sign it over to her. Her bill is over 2 grand! I emailed back right away to tell her that I need him to pay her..he is the one who just recently came into this money and I am desperately poor! My ex h is very histrionic and I feel certain that he has contacted her office to rant and rave and to tell her that there is no way in God's green earth that he is going to pay her bill so then she sent that email to me about how I must sign over my interest to her office. I emailed her and asked her if ex contacted her. She has not answered.
Here is an important thing: her bill seems really high to me. In the itemization it shows that her assistant did most everything and it seems inflated. It indicates that he spent over 11 hours on my case. 11 hours and they didn't even know when the settlement was paid..they missed it. Does 11 hours seem high? I have a real hard time imagining anyone working 11 hours on this! Really? A few phone calls and garnishment papers? Really? a total of 14 hours altogether? She reportedly put 3 hours into it (which is possible, I guess).
I need advice how to proceed. I told her that I definitely do not want to pay her fees--that it HAS to come from the ex as stipulated in the judgement. She emailed me back and said "no, he will have to reimburse YOU". What?? This truly is news to me--I told her again and again that HE has to pay it.
Her office did file papers that say that ex has until 8/24 to dispute her bill. Do *I* need to dispute her bill if I don't agree with it? How does one do that? I wouldn't even know how to challenge it. I am super super super poor and I need that interest payment and I can not afford the 2 grand.
Please please try not to be snarky in answers to me. I understand that lawyers are necessary and expensive. I just need to understand how to be business-like but also an advocate for myself! My lawyer is now she is grabbing the money I needed grabbed for me...probably because she realizes that the ex will now move his money and not pay willingly.