Seeking Justice, Pro Se
October 15, 2012 7:37 PM   Subscribe

YANYL: how do I ask for attorney's fees on a motion that was involuntarily withdrawn?

I filed a motion to enforce, for contempt, and for attorney's fees through my attorney in a post-divorce situation where my parent-child contact was being denied and $3,000 in debt ordered to be paid had not been paid. My ex-wife had refused to mediate (our final order dispute resolution procedure includes mediation before returning to court) but in her response expressed her commitment to mediation. She also filed her own motion to modify and made up unsubstantiable lies and saying that our son is not safe in my care. (This is not true!) As far as the debt, she simply said she was confused and would pay it within 30 days.

The judge required a stipulation from us to facilitate the next scheduled visitation, which did happen (thank god) but sent us back to mediation to try to resolve the issues. My ex-wife then used stalling tactics, including cancelling mediation sessions at last minute on the day they were scheduled, etc. Until our deadline to return to court was up. We were only able to complete the initial season and none of the major issues were addressed.

I filed for an extension to allow us to complete mediation, but she filed opposition and the judge denied the extension and withdrew our motion, stating that we should complete mediation and "should mediation not prove successful, appropriate motions may be pursued at that time."

Since the motions were considered withdrawn, it has been two months and my ex-wife still has not paid the debt and neither she nor her counsel will respond to myself or the mediator to move forward with trying to mediate the unresolved issues.

The problem is these post-divorce motions have cost me $5,000 and now I have no more money. I've spent all my savings over the course of this divorce. So now I'm on my own.

I know normally you just request attorneys fees as part of your motion, but I'm unsure about how to make the request for attorneys fees from a previous motion. If you have any advice, please help. I know you are not my lawyer. I know I should hire a lawyer. But I can't right now and I feel like I can't wait to save up the money. There are more visits coming up and I am afraid that if there is no consequence to her actions, my ex-wife will continue to interfere with and deny my parent-child contact.
posted by doomtop to Law & Government (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry Doomtop, but you're asking such a fact specific question that it's pretty much the definition of the type of question that a non-lawyer answering it with any degree of detail would be practicing law without a license and a lawyer can't answer without putting themselves on the firing line.

That said, you're in Vermont according to your profile page and I'm a lawyer in California who's not familiar with Vermont law. You're also in a situation I'm far too familiar with. So I suggest you call some one like Vermont Legal Aid.

Now, they're unlikely to help you. If it's anything like California they'll say, "We can't do Family Law. It's not in our budget."

But that's ok, because what you're really calling for is to find out what services Vermont offers in Legal Self-Help. In California there are self help centers that help people fill out the paperwork for their motions. They won't give you "legal advice", but they will help format your stuff so that you get in front of a judge. And a judge, especially a judge who works the Family Law docket is going to have lots of pro-se people in front of them and be used to looking through their bad legal arguments to the facts of the case and attempt to do some justice. That's probably the best you can hope for.

So call legal aid, ask for help, if they say they can't, ask what they know about Legal Self Help centers, either state run or private. Go from there.

Good luck!
posted by bswinburn at 7:46 PM on October 15, 2012 [15 favorites]

Listen to what bswinburn says. That advice is golden.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:47 PM on October 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for the advice, bswinburn. The facts were to explain the reason I am trying to do this. But I'm mainly looking for how to word the request for "attorney fees from a previous motion" regardless of the facts of the case. I know most of the basic stuff, like how to form the motion and how I would request attorney fees if they were for the current motion. Anyways, thanks again. I will seek out what is available.
posted by doomtop at 4:29 PM on October 16, 2012

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