Written by a family law lawyer and divorce attorney serving the Murrieta, Temecula, Hemet and Riverside areas of Riverside County, California.
I pride myself on being a good divorce and family law attorney. This blog is to give my clients an idea of how very difficult this job is, and to what lengths our office will go to help our clients.
Thursday evening. I worked until 5:30pm, and had just gotten home. I was preparing to go to a family function when my cellular phone rang. I publish my cell phone number on the internet and all my current and prospective clients have my number.
Anyway, the telephone call was from a stranger with an emergency. She lives in Pennsylvania, and her husband lives in California. Her husband had just called her and told her that he had filed for divorce and he would be in court at 8:30am the next morning to ask for custody of their two-year-old son. The couple had been living apart for a year, and the husband had only seen the child once in all that time. Naturally, the mother was distraught, and begged me to help her. I got in my car and drove back to the office. I prepared the court paperwork for the mother, and finished up about 7:30pm that evening. I missed most of my family event. The next morning I was in court bright and early with opposition to the custody request. The lawyer on the other side wanted to know how I was able to act so quickly. Hard work, and persistence, I guess. The father lost, the mother won, and she was very grateful.
On my way out of the courtroom, I received a phone call from a man who needed a divorce. I set up an appointment for him to come in and see me for a free consultation the next Friday morning.
That same morning I had two other hearings. The second hearing involved a mother with a husband who is an alcoholic. They have a child together, and he gets so drunk he is unable to stand up on some days during his visitation time when the child is in his custody. She was requesting child and spousal support. The parties own a multimillion-dollar business and he is attempting to starve her out by not paying my client any child support or spousal support. The judge ordered that a forensic accountant review the corporation's books and records, and the judge ordered he pay her some child support and spousal support until the audit is completed. That client was also very happy with the outcome.
Walking out of the second case to the third case, I received a call from a very nice client who is a staty-at-home mom with three kids. She told me her husband, who make $8,000.00 per month, had cancelled all her insurances. I must file emergency court papers (also called an ex parte) on Monday to have the insurances reinstated.
The third case involved a husband whose wife had left him for another man (my second client thought he was cute, by the way, and wanted to meet him). The parties had agreed they would share joint physical custody and now the wife wanted to move more than 50 miles away so that she could move herself and the children in with this new man. Mom's lawyer was also asking that Dad pay one-half of the children's private school tuition. By this time it was 12 noon, and since we could not reach a custody agreement on our own, the court told us to come back at 1:30pm for a hearing.
Since I had not eaten breakfast and had a little free time, I decided to get a quick bite to eat. As soon as I got in my car I realized that I left my wallet at the office the night before, and had no money and no credit cards. I did not even have enough change in my car for a bottle of water, so I went back into the courthouse and waited for my next hearing. As I was walking back into the courthouse, I got a call from a close friend, wondering I why I had stood her up for our lunch date. This reminded me: I was supposed to take my 86-year-old dad to a follow-up appointment with his eye surgeon at 2:00pm. I called my father and told him we would have to reschedule.
While waiting for the family law courtroom to open up again, I got a call on my cell phone from the girlfriend of a man who agreed that he was the father of a child in a paternity case who is not biologically his. The family law judge gave him 5% visitation and ordered him to pay 25% of his paycheck to the mother. "Dad" fell behind on his child support and is now facing a contempt charge, meaning that he could be sentenced to five days in jail for each month he fell behind in child support payments (three months). "Dad" is now re-thinking his decision to step up to the plate, and now wants a DNA test. The contempt trial is Monday, so if they want me to help, they will have to come in to see me on Saturday. I had plans to take my daughter shopping for a new outfit as a high school graduation present, but that may just have to be postponed...
At the third hearing, the judge denied both of the adulterous wife's requests. So, Dad will keep joint custody and will not get totally soaked financially. I think he, too, was happy with the outcome.
I had a fourth case, actually, in Orange County for an old client. She is trying to get her divorce recognized in Peru and needs the court to sign off on a document indicating the divorce in California has not been appealed. My law partner and husband went on that matter. Not only would the court not sign the paper, but he was absolutely EVIL about it and was quite abusive. Unfortunately, first thing Monday morning I will have to figure out a new way to get this poor lady the divorce paperwork she needs because I make a promise to myself each time I take a client's money that I will do everything in my power to help, and I take that commitment very seriously. I am very tired today, so I will get the family law document signed, sealed and delivered somehow on Monday.
After court that Friday afternoon, I asked my husband to go shopping with me because I was in need of some suits for court. It was about 4:00pm by this time, and I knew if I was needed that clients or attorneys would call us on my cell phone. While I am in the dressing room trying on clothes, my cell phone rings. By this time, it is almost exactly 5:00pm. I learn that one of my clients, who is a cop, discovered his ex-wife has a warrant for her arrest, and is refusing to return custody of his kids to her. After several phone calls back and forth between myself and Mom's family law attorney, we negotiate a visitation deal. My client will take the kids to the house, call the police, and allow them to have visitation with Mom as long as the police confirm there is no warrant outstanding for her arrest (there was not).
We arrive back at the house about 6:30pm. More divorce business is awaiting. I have an e-mail from a client who paid $8,500.00 to another attorney in a divorce, but did absolutely NOTHING for him. He is afraid to continue on with the divorce case because he has run out of money, and does not know what to do. We set up an appointment for Monday.
A client calls about 7:00pm. She had just been served with child support papers after a lengthy custody battle with her ex-boyfriend, which she won. She wanted to know what to do about the child support hearing. I told her to come in on Monday.
At 9:00pm, I send some instructions to our assistant by e-mail regarding some of my other family law cases so that they are waiting for her first thing Monday morning. Most importantly, we need to address the insurance issue of our divorce client by getting her insurances reinstated; we need to get those divorce papers filed in Peru; we need to finish a legal brief for a mom who got her 5-year-old son back after 1-1/2 years and is now fighting for custody with her son's grandmother to keep the boy (our argument is that the grandmother needs to file for guardianship); we need to finalize an appeal that must be filed on Thursday morning for a client in Texas whose wife is trying to sue him for divorce in California; and we need to get the paternity file and get some trust money returned for a new client whose attorney illegally used the trust money to pay his own attorney fees while doing absolutely nothing for her (he may end up being disbarred over the whole incident). No wonder family law attorneys have such a bad reputation.
Afterwards, I start on this blog, which is finished at 11:00pm on a Friday evening.
Bottom line: sometimes being a divorce and family law attorney is stressful. Many times the job just outright sucks. We are punching bags. Sometimes I feel blessed to have this job; most of the time I feel stressed out. I keep on going because this job is usually extremely rewarding, and sometimes I am actually able to change people's lives. That is a humbling feeling.
So, if you have any divorce or family law matters, including any matters concerning paternity, child support, spousal support or child custody and visitation, and if you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet and Riverside areas of Riverside County, California, I hope you will consider giving us a call. We offer free consultations, and I promise we will do our best to help. Our phone number is (951) 816-9543.
Otherwise, you are welcome to obtain more information by visiting our web sites at: http://www.temeculadivorce.com/ or http://www.familylaw-riversidecounty.com/ or http://www.familylawyerintemecula.com/