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If judge orders sole custody at temp orders and pretrial, but my lawyers bullied me into giving joint legal, can i get it back?

Boston, MA |

I NEVER wanted to give up my sole legal and physical custody. Judge awarded it at temp hearing and then said at pretrial that she would still give it if we went to trial. My HORRIBLE lawyers bullied me into giving joint legal to settle, I did not want it, but was bullied into agreeing (trust me I was) I have regretted it everyday since. My ex is nuts and interferes with everything, regardless of how right I am. Even if an outside party recommended something, he just causes problems to cause problems. I can not co parent with him, I gave him a shot but it's been two years since divorce and he is a loser. He is now preventing my daughter from receiving medical help (therapist) and he has had no involvement in past, has no clue. he has control issues.,he is a cop and nuts. How hard to get bac

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Your recourses are determined by a few facts, which are unclear in your statement:
a) if the joint legal custody was issued at a hearing or as final judgment of divorce,
b) and how long ago
The court is reluctant to change a recent order; however if exigent circumstances exist (father interfering with medical care of child) you can make an emergency application to the court to remove him as joint legal custodian. If the case is still before the court you can file a motion. If the case is disposed, you have to file a Complaint for Modification of Custody.
Put together every bit of evidence you have of father's interfering with care of the child and contact a family law attorney who can help you get these papers before the court. If your lawyer is acting contrary to your direct instructions, you should fire him/her. Hire a lawyer that will work with you within the law to obtain your objectives.
I hope this helps.

This answer is provided for informational purposes only and it is not intended as legal advice. Additionally, this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you wish to obtain legal advice specific to your case, please consult with a local attorney

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5 comments

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much. Actually the order is two years old. I was given, ordered both sole legal and physical custody by the judge. It was my lawyers that bullied me into giving my ex joint legal (I still have sole physical) to get the divorce settled. We did this at trial. (instead of going to trial, we settled in the courtroom, literally!!) So sadly I was pressured into it and have regretted it everyday since. So plenty of time has gone by and I have given him plenty of opportunities to do the right thing and he continues to fight me the entire way. I am asking about this because I read somewhere that it is almost impossible to gain sole legal custody. That a judge almost never gives it. (sole legal and physical) if you try to get it after a divorce. I did not know if it made a difference that the judges had actually awarded it to me and my lawyers were the ones who made me give him joint legal, no judge ever gave it back to him, sadly I did, against my better judgement. Thanks so much for you time.

Philip W. Mason

Philip W. Mason

Posted

It is not impossible to achieve sole legal custody if you can prove (though relevant evidence) that your ex is exercising his rights to the detriment of the child. If you have such evidence you should seek a complaint for modification. You may wish to file a complaint for contempt concurrently if the facts support it. Sit down with a competent domestic relations attorney for a free consultation.

Asker

Posted

Thank you.

Estela Matta

Estela Matta

Posted

This is do-able. You have a strong argument to make against the father's conduct towards the child and even endangering her health.

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your help.

Posted

It’s not clear whether the court order for joint custody was the result of a stipulation or though a formal hearing. In any event, if you disagree with joint custody, and have a legitimate basis to argue that sole custody is in the best interest of the child, you can and should continue to seek sole custody though negotiations and ultimately through trial.

My concerns, however, are two-fold: 1) that your relationship with your attorney has deteriorated to the point where his/her continued representation is impractical (you should discuss your concerns with your attorney), 2) whether or not there is time, and economic resources, to seek alternate representation (if your trial is imminent you may not be able to find substitute representation or continue the trial long until you can).

Speak to your current attorney and ask him to confirm that he will support your goals. If he wishes to advise you on alternate strategies they should be presented as recommendations and not directives. Concurrently, use the “find Lawyer” tab here on avvo.com to seek consultations with several domestic relations attorneys in your area (most will provide an ignition meeting at no cost).

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

Hi, Thank you for your response. You are correct, my relationship with my attorney is non existent and that is because he was a thief and as soon as I straighten out all of the mistakes he made I plan on filing a complaint with the bar assoc. and speaking with a malpractice attorney. My bill before trial was 120,000.00 I had been given unbelievable temporary orders (and then again at my pretrial hearing the judge said that if we went to trial she would continue to award me sole custody because there was obviously no way to communicate) My ex was in a very, very bad situation, he was in contempt, the judge stated so and THIS time it was to be heard the same day as our trial. He had filed a motion to reduce the child support he had been denied. My ex was a total sleazeball and was going to finally be punished. (not to mention he owed me 8000 in child support for 5 months) I held all the cards, but after wasting all of my money (I am middle class, pretty much only had house and pension and child custody,none of those were even an issue, my ex only wanted the title of joint sole custody and could care less about joint physical. He doesn't even take them half the time. So there were really no issues, only he wanted to pay less in child support. Anyhow there was no need for my bill to be 120,000, my divorce should have been 25,000 tops!! Well my lawyer said he would not go to trial unless I used his experts and (no need, my ex had no experts, there was nothing to need experts on!!) paid them up front he would not go to trial. He knew at that point I could not pay him and had a balance at that point. I had paid him over 70,000 already at that point, FOR NOTHING. I had warned him to stop wasting my money. So I was bullied into giving my ex joint legal and a million other things, especially when after two years of working with him and telling him all the things I wanted in my divorce agreement, because he kept telling me I did not want the judge to decide...... Well after my ex played a million games, backed out of agreements after swearing before a judge, just to get out of contempt charges, millions of games, after all of this my lawyer did not come to trial with any type of agreement or even a shell of an agreement, they wrote a million stupid little things in a couple of hours at court that day , that if you read you would think my exes lawyer wrote it. My lawyer told me when I questioned something, that she could fix it later. So I agreed, because there were things I wanted and so I gave him joint legal, I gave it to him against my better judgement, because my lawyer said unless I paid the experts he would not go to trial, so I agreed. Well after she wrote the agreement at the trial, there was supposed to be room for changes, well when I later (we had some time to tweek it, parts of it) said I want this and that, she told me NO I can't do that. Well needless to say I was SO angry and said that I would not sign it and she said it would go back to the one she wrote that day, the judge would go by that and that was even worse than what she now had. I would have been better off going to trial, what the judge said I would get at the pretrial hearing was more than I got. I even got stuck paying 100% of the co pays!!! which totaled over 6000 last year. So I did not want to give up sole legal. I was bullied because I could not pay for experts. Which I DID NOT need. My lawyer was a grandstander and a jerk, they both were. So my question is how difficult is it to get sole legal back AFTER I was already given it by a judge and a judge did not award it to him and stated that she would not? I have read that it is difficult to get sole custody, but would that still apply if I had it and gave it back, hoping that he would grow up and that I could co parent with him and then found out that nothing changed that he is still the same jerk, actually MUCH worse. Thanks>

Asker

Posted

Also the day of the trial, I had to drop the contempt charges, and forgive the 8000 he owed me in back child support AND pay out money, almost as much as he did, maybe more actually. to pay back the things that needed to be paid because he did not pay his child support. It was written into the agreement. So not only did I not get any money (which I was so behind on everything) I had to come up with money that I did not have. After taking my father's 401K my lawyer bullied my father into taking out or promising to take out a small loan to pay "my share". That is how PATHETIC my lawyer was. That my ex was going to get screwed by the courts, that I had the upper hand SO bad and he bullied me into settling,

Posted

If I read this correctly, you settled your Divorce 2 years ago and a judgment issued. In order to settle, you agreed to joint legal custody. You do not mention going back to court since that time. If this is a correct reading of your situation, (you have a judgment, you have not been back to court recently) you can file a complaint for modification seeking sole legal custody. The change of circumstances required to file would be that you have been unable to co-parent in the best interest of your child(ren). You will need to be able to state concrete examples of instances where if you had had sole legal custody, it would have better served your child(ren). After you file your Complaint for Modification, you can file a Motion for Temporary Orders if you can explain to the judge the 'emergent' situation (getting permission to override his objections to therapy for your child). You can not bring up instances that occurred before the divorce. If you have been back to court since the divorce about these issues, you need to talk to an attorney to see what would be beneficial to bring up again, and what would not.

It seems obvious that you will not be utilizing the same attorney for this action. I suggest interviewing a couple before hiring another to make sure you have the right attorney for you. You need to feel comfortable with your attorney, be able to talk freely with your attorney and have confidence that you are getting good legal advice without feeling pressured. I wish you luck.

Consultation with an attorney is the only way to be sure that all relevant information will be factored and the right legal options and solutions will be provided. This answer is provided very limited and for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on, and does not create a client-attorney relationship.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you Donna, I appreciate your help. No my prior attorneys were HORRIBLE and totally ripped me off 120,000 before trial and there was no reason for it to even be close to that. My ex did not want sole custody, only for title purposes. He blows them off half the time for his visitations. I have been back to court a few times because of my attorney's incompetence, trying to fix their mistakes, but I have NEVER brought up custody, although I have planned all along to go back for it, I never even threatened my ex about it because I was afraid that he would try for it to spite me and I can not afford an attorney at this time (but make too much for a free one) So I was waiting until I thought I could, because I am horrible at representing myself (as you can see I am all over the place!!! lol) anyhow but it has gotten to the point where I have no choice and will have to hope I can do it. My ex is a cop and is in court all the time, he carries himself very well and blatantly lies to the court and that is where he gets me and he knows it. So those are things I have to learn to ignore and stick to the facts. So thanks for your help, hopefully by holding out this whole time, it will help because I have given him so many opportunities to co parent with me but it is impossible. Thanks so much.

Estela Matta

Estela Matta

Posted

Excellent advice from Attorney Booth.

Asker

Posted

Yes, thank you both.

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