Must I hire an attorney to sue my SC divorce attorney for LEGAL MALPRACTICE or may I sue & present my case to a judge myself?

Asked over 1 year ago - Cincinnati, OH

I live in the state where my ex & I lived for 3 of the 4 1/2 decades of our marriage until he moved 2 SC for a better-paying position so he could "better provide for our retirement." (Read: to continue his secret adulterous affair.) If it's mandatory 2 hire an atty., must s(he) be a SC atty.? Div. took place in SC. If I myself can sue the div. atty. & present my evidence in court, how do I proceed? What is the process before, during & after the court hearing; the 1st step to the very last? Where do I find all that constitutes legal malpr. in SC? Would the judge be the same one who handed down the div. decree? Can I include in the settlement that the atty must pay the expenses I would incur (transportation, hotel and meals, filing and court fees and any other expenses)?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Andrew A Esposito

    Contributor Level 13

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You can represent yourself. Should you represent yourself? No. There is old saying that says "a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." This is true for non attorneys as well.

    As for the rest of your question...well you are asking for a quick summary of what lawyers spend three years in law school learning and then the rest of their lives trying to master. If you choose to represent yourself it is your responsibility to find out the answers to all of your questions. A good place to start is the local law library.

    Good luck.

    Mr. Esposito is a Ohio-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You... more
  2. Curt Perri Bogen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . OK--I agree with my colleagues that if you want to pursue malpractice, hire a lawyer. But it sounds more like you want to file a Motion to Set aside the divorce settlement because you don't like the deal you got. I'm guessing that you are angry about the spousal infidelity, and want the Court to punish your spouse more in the settlement terms in your decree.

    1. If there is malpractice--you would be filing a suit for malpractice--and the legal standard for that is fairly high. If the divorce was in South Carolina, you would hire counsel there. The case is not heard in the divorce court--it is a separate civil matter. However, you don't indicate the basis for the malpractice in your question. If there were undisclosed assets--the case may be re-opened to address those issues due to non-disclosure. If the settlement is fundamentally unfair based upon new information not provided at trial, then you also may be able to get the decision set aside.

    BUT, IF YOU ARE SIMPLY ANGRY ABOUT THE EQUITABLE DIVISION OF MARITAL ASSETS, BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE THE DECISION OF THE JUDGE BECAUSE HE OR SHE DIDN'T "PUNISH" YOUR EX-SPOUSE TO YOUR PERSONAL SATISFACTION--THERE IS NO MALPRACTICE. THE JUDGE HEARD THE EVIDENCE AND MADE A DECISION. BASED ON THE EVIDENCE. MIGHT BE A GOOD DECISION, OR A BAD DECISION, BUT IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT--APPEAL OR MOVE TO SET IT ASIDE--
    MALPRACTICE SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE JUST ANGRY.

    Quit directing your anger at your lawyer. He or She was the person in the room trying to help you. The question makes you simply sound mean or vindictive because you don't like the decision of the Court or the agreement reached after the fact. You may need to see a counselor to deal with those anger issues. I have seen many cases like this. Move on with the next phase of your life. Anger and hatred are filling emotions that you can live off of for years--but while they may keep a belly full, they do not nourish--and the results of consuming them are empty.

    Listen, there may be something not disclosed in your question which IS malpractice--but if I haven't responded, it is because you haven't given a basis for a real response. Because of that, you are probably going to be just as ticked off at me for giving you this direct response. Sorry if this comes off as offensive. However, most lawyers confronted with an angry and spurned spouse won't give them an honest response--just send them off and let them hear what they want to hear. I can't really do that in this forum. To be honest--your question is sort of abusive--and the attack on your lawyer sounds unwarranted. At least, from what you've stated.

    The question, as worded, only tells me you hate your ex and are dissatisfied with the settlement because the purveyor of the "secret affair" wasn't punished by the Court. Most states need only incompatibility as a basis for divorce. Once that's established, they do not care about fault or blame--and it does not enter the dollars and cents of dividing the marital assets and debts down the middle--in an equitable settlement.

    Get past the anger and move on--find someone new and stop being so full of anger--or you'll waste precious time to move on and get a happier life. You know the old saying--"Living well is the best revenge."

    I apologize if I've misread the situation--but I've seen this type of case many times in a quarter century of cleaning up people's divorces and the messes that some have made of their lives--and I've seen many an angry spouse, mad at the husband, transferring the anger to their Attorney because they can no longer direct it at the Husband,

    Who do you really want to punish here? Sounds lime the Ex, not the Judge, not the Lawyer--you sound upset because they didn't "help you punish your EX"--and that is not their job. It's a divorce. Find the assets and debts and divide them, rule on custody & support. When the Judge reviews the information--THEY make the call. Get rid of the anger. Good Luck.

    The answers to questions provided in response to the request for assistance are general in nature, and reflect... more
  3. Jack Richard Lebowitz

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to hire a SC lawyer to answer all these questions. If there was malpractice, you can get damages, but there's nothing in your question to necessarily suggest malpractice occurred. It just sounds like you had a bad marriage and think you got a raw deal in the divorce which is pretty common with a lot of divorces and often has little to do with "malpractice". The lawyers don't make the facts or the law, they only have to work with what the facts and law as they are given to them.

    If you are asking whether you can take this case to a judge yourself, it sounds to me like either (1) this lawyer did something totally outrageous, like didn't put in an Answer, missed your trial because he was on vacation in Aruba, or fell asleep during the depositions, so that even a layperson could establish that "malpractice" occurred or (2) that you don't really understand the concept of "malpractice" or what happens during a "trial" where two parties present radically different versions of "the truth" and a judge must decide between them.

    This answer is provided under the Avvo.com “Terms and Conditions of Use” (“ToU”), particularly ¶9 which states... more

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