Mid-divorce, ex just fired lawyer #3 – good or bad news?
March 4, 2020 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Two years into a contentious divorce, just as the first big change in parenting time is around the corner, I hear my ex just fired her third lawyer. Is this good or bad news, and should it affect my strategy going forward?

Almost all of our conflict has been around the kids – parenting schedule, accusations, custody evaluation, etc. We’ve done it all through lawyers and a parent coordinator, whose term just ended. Haven’t gone in front of the judge yet, but likely will soon.

Just as our parent coordinator handed in her final recommendation that I get more parenting time, which my ex is contesting, we hear she just fired her third lawyer. As we prepare to file a motion to get these new recommendations in place, I’m wondering what the ramifications of this could be, at least until she (presumably) gets a new one.

I’d think facing someone in court without a lawyer would be an advantage. But my lawyer says it’s probably bad, since now there’s no one to keep her stonewalling in check (99% likely the reason for the repeated turnover). We have multiple professional involved in our case who could testify to witnessing this, both directly and indirectly. I’m envisioning her endlessly gumming up the process without having to pay lawyer fees, while I still am. Her boyfriend is also a lawyer, and I’d be surprised if he’s not helping.

I’ve more or less accepted the incredibly depressing fact that we may alway be in conflict over the kids. My goal is just more parenting time. YANAL, yes, but I'm still wondering if I should be optimistic at this news or not, and what if anything may be the best new course of action.
posted by El Curioso to Human Relations (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I probably should add that she has full legal custody and 80% of the parenting time. I'm putting all my effort (and $) into trying to even this out as time goes on.
posted by El Curioso at 10:10 AM on March 4, 2020

This is a question you should be asking your lawyer.

Generally though unrepresented litigants are very difficult to deal with because they don’t understand the rules or procedures.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2020 [9 favorites]

When our opposing party wanted to stonewall, evade service, claim they didn't get served when they actually did, etc., the judge was fairly lenient to them in part because they weren't represented. I'm not sure if it would've been that bad in another way if they had had an attorney, but as was, it did mean that we paid more than they did. Hopefully family court is different. And I'm sorry -- the legal system is so expensive and awful.
posted by slidell at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Don't be surprised if you learn that she's not firing her lawyers but they're firing her as a client. My children's father went through several lawyers too, and I learned much later that there are multiple judgments against him for unpaid legal fees.

I’m envisioning her endlessly gumming up the process without having to pay lawyer fees, while I still am.

A not uncommon strategy. He was pro se for everything, when he appeared, and filed new claims regularly.

I’ve more or less accepted the incredibly depressing fact that we may alway be in conflict over the kids.

Don't lose heart yet. Some people just aren't about the kids, or about living life, but remain stuck in the fight. But you haven't been to court yet. It could be that she's getting all of her fight out now, since she's still fighting with you. Once a judge makes a ruling, her fight is with the existing order and the court.
posted by headnsouth at 10:51 AM on March 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

When I was a divorce lawyer it was always a red flag when a potential new client had had several lawyers, or if a client wanted to change lawyers after a case had been running for a few years.

Either the client was the problem and would be a massive PITA (any divorce lawyer will tell you that 10% of the clients take up 90% of your day) or - once you saw who had been representing the client - the previous lawyer was the problem and you'd inherit a case that was in a mess. Either way it would be a total goatf**k.

There's no requirement for a litigant to have a lawyer, but it can sometimes be better to have an unrepresented party than someone who's getting bad advice.

It doesn't sound like that's the case here, and unfortunately it's all too easy for one party to drag things out in the hope that the other party will either concede or run out of money.

As headnsouth said, some clients want the fight, not the outcome. There were some clients who I knew, once we had the final order setting out custody, visitation, etc. would be back within months (sometimes weeks) saying the arrangements had broken down because (bullshit reasons). Some people Just Love The Drama, I'm sorry to say.
posted by essexjan at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2020 [11 favorites]

"I’ve more or less accepted the incredibly depressing fact that we may always be in conflict over the kids."

Four years ago my ex left me and married my best friend. She told everyone I had been "verbally and emotionally abusive" (which is not true, as verified by everyone else in my life) and tanked my reputation here in Portland, 1,800 miles away from my own family and friends.

So, yeah, there will always be conflict between her and I. We will never be friends. And since we trade kids weekly (I have them every weekend, except our son who lives with me full-time) there is drama and there are new wounds constantly.

It sucks. It is depressing. But I have adapted and you will too - just try to be the better person. Try to have integrity, even when the deck is stacked against you and things aren't "fair." You might lose money and time. It will likely be horrible. But stay the course, if for no other reason than the kids.
posted by tacodave at 5:25 PM on March 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

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