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NJ - Uncont Dissolution of Marriage - My ex and I seem to be on the same page, but the attorney is making things difficult!

Edison, NJ |

My ex and I agreed to have an uncont div and we had a PSA drawn up by her attorney (I did have a attorney review). Their attorney was 'suppose' to keep me in the loop and handle all the docs with the court. The attorney has lied about things and then tried to keep a copy of the countersigned PSA from me. They also have failed to tell me the hearing date, as they stated they would do. (I do have a letter from the attorney with the details of our agreement) I did not receive anything from the court regarding a hearing date. I’m assuming b/c they think her attorney is letting me know? I did call the ct and found out the hearing date. I’m worried this attorney will blind-side me at the hearing and try to change our agreement. Any suggestions? Can I let the court know what happened?

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Attorney answers 6

Posted

It sounds as if you have not filed an Answer or other responsive pleading to your ex's Complaint for Divorce. That would explain why the court is not directly communicating with you, i.e. providing you with notices of scheduled appearances. Your ex's attorney represents your ex and you cannot rely upon that attorney to protect your interest. If you do not know what you are doing you should seriously consider retaining an attorney to protect your interest. In the event you elect not to retain an attorney you should at a minimum file a responsive pleading, i.e. Answer, to your ex's Complaint for Divorce so that you are provided by the court with an opporunity to protect your interests.

Kenneth A. White, Esq.
New Jersey Family Law Attorney

The Answer provided was based on the limited information provided, and represents information based on the law in general, not a legal opinion that can be relied upon. Before a formal legal opinion can be offered I would need an opportunity to review all possible relevant facts and circumstances. You cannot rely on the advice of an attorney given over the internet. The exact facts of your sitaution, including facts which you have not mentioned in your question, may completely change the opinion that is being offered. Please be aware that the above comments are neither protected by attorney-client privilege, nor may the same be the basis for a malpractice lawsuit.

Asker

Posted

I actually DID file an Answer with the court when their attorney would not give me a copy of the PSA. I knew the 35 days was running out for me to reply and I advised them to protect myself, I would send in an answer if I didn't receive the PSA . BUT the attorney already filed the form where I waived the 35 days, so I don't think my answer is allowed at that point anyway? I understand their attorney will not protect my interest, but they can lie and change the written agreement me and my ex had? How is that legal?

Kenneth A White

Kenneth A White

Posted

I am not suggesting in any way that your ex's attorney is permitted to trick you or lie to you or the court. If your Answer was not "filed" because you previously executed a "waiver," there are steps you can take to vacate your "waiver" and see that your Answer is filed and your rights protected. It is impossible to provide you with all the details involved in this forum. If you are uncomfortable proceeding without counsel or want to assure your rights are protected I must strongly recommend that you hire an attorney.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your input. I appreciate it. Let me ask you one more question. I do not contest the divorce and neither does me ex. Should I wait until the hearing and see if they try to 'change' things or should I just file to vacate the 'waiver' now and then file for a contested divorce or maybe just the notice of appearance?

Kenneth A White

Kenneth A White

Posted

Whether you file an Answer or an Appearance you would acheive your goal. If you wait until the hearing date it is possible that a Judge could take action over your objection, citing the fact that you waived your right to file an Answer or other contest the litigation. While most Judge's may allow you to be heard or to secure an adjournment and opportunity to file a responsive pleading if on the hearing date you noted an objection, you cannot be guaranteed an opportunity to protect your interests without having addressed these issues in advance of the hearing date.

Asker

Posted

Is there a form I would need to use to vacate the "waiver" in Essex County? I'm really in a hurry since the hearing is coming up, so any guidance would be helpful! You have been a big help!!!!

Kenneth A White

Kenneth A White

Posted

There is no exact form to acquire from the courthouse. As an attorney, I would ask your ex's attorney to execute a Consent Order allowing for the relief I wanted. If the consent was withheld the next option is to file a Motion.

Asker

Posted

Her attorney will not do that.. lol They wouldn't even give me the PSA! AND won't tell me the hearing date! Can I just file the motion?

Kenneth A White

Kenneth A White

Posted

You can file a Motion. Otherwise, I must respectfully suggest that your inquire with me has exceeded the expectations of this forum. If you remain uncomfortable proceeding unrepresented I must respectfully suggest that you retain an attorney to assist you.

Asker

Posted

I understand. I appreciate your time! Have a good day.

Posted

Alternatively, you can file what is called a Notice of Appearance. This does not permit you to contest the issues in the complaint but the Court would send you notices as your appearance would now be on record.

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: The response to the question posted is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. The response is intended as general information based upon the facts stated in the question, and is provided for educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Responses are based solely upon New Jersey law.

Asker

Posted

Do you know what the time frame is for me to file this?

Asker

Posted

I think I'm passed that point! The hearing has been scheduled...

John B. D'Alessandro

John B. D'Alessandro

Posted

Call the court to confirm the date and time, then show up. This way you can at least see and hear whats going on. If there are issues and you tell the Judge they may put things on hold for you to get an attorney

Asker

Posted

Sounds like a good idea!

Posted

It sounds like you are in a difficult position. You need representation. Your spouse's attorney isn't supposed to trick you, but is not responsible for your interests either.

Please be advised my answers to questions does not constitute legal advise and you should not rely on it, due to the fact that we have never met, I have not been aprised of the facts in you case nor have I reviewed any documents.

Asker

Posted

Thanks Yolanda! I have talked to a few different attorneys. It appeared to be smooth sailing and that I wouldn't really need an attorney since it was 'uncontested' and I had the PSA. Guess that was wrong! lol

Yolanda Navarrete

Yolanda Navarrete

Posted

It is unfortunate that you can't trust some attorneys.

Asker

Posted

Yea, I agree. I have a good friend that is an attorney and she isn't like THIS one I've been dealing with! ugh! So I know they are all NOT the same. :-)

Posted

I agree with Mr. White. However, what is not clear from your question is: Have you received a copy of the Complaint for Divorce? If not, the divorce case cannot go forward. If you have received the Complaint, were you served personally with it or did you sign a form called an Acknowledgment of Service? If not, the divorce case cannot go forward. I second Mr. White's recommendation that you retain a very experienced Divorce Attorney.

DISCLAIMER The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. I did receipt a copy of the complaint and a constable served me.

Posted

Mr. White's response is thorough and well-reasoned. I will only add that you wife's attorney cannot negotiate a contract with you, which you then sign, and then unilaterally change the terms of that agreement. That is unethical and actionable.

That aside, you should always retain a copy of any document you sign, even if it is not counter-signed by the other party, to protect yourself.

I think you may need to consult with an attorney further to cover any other issues you may have filing your Answer with the court.

The foregoing is not legal advice, and nothing in the foregoing shall be deemed to create an attorney client relationship. If you feel you need to speak with an attorney regarding your issue, it is recommended that you contact an attorney with expertise in your area of inquiry. The information related above is purely for informational purposes, and should not be acted upon without speaking with qualified counsel familiar with you specific situation and the laws related thereto.

Posted

I recommend that you meet with an experienced family attorney to discuss your concerns. You may want to start with the attorney who reviewed the PSA. I agree that it sounds like the matter is moving forward by way of Default, which means the Court would not send notice to you but would notice your spouse's attorney. If you want to be noticed, you would need to file a responsive pleading which can be an Answer, Answer & Counterclaim or an Appearance.
Best of luck to you.

This answer is being made for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. By responding to a question, no attorney-client relationship has been established.

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