I hired an attorney and we were trying to work it out with his attorney as uncontested. However it has been almost a year and nothing has been worked out. My attorney states that I need to respond as contested because nothing has been resolved. She also indicated if I don't respond the case will go into default. The problem is that I am not able to afford the attorney's fee for contesting the petition. What happens if i don't resond? Or could I respond without an attorney?
If you do not respond, you are essentially telling the court that you agree with everything he alleged and asked for. He would likely receive exactly what he requested.
While it is recommended to have an attorney in family law matters, especially when your opposition is represented by counsel, you are not required to have an attorney. You can represent yourself. But you should consider applying for legal representation through the Georgia Legal Services Program, the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project, or the Henry County bar association.
~ Kem Eyo
The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.
You definitely need to respond. Your failure to do so will basically allow the court to enter a default judgment. If you cannot afford the attorney you hired originally and you do not qualify for pro bono, consider talking to a few other attorneys who may be more reasonable. If you still owe your attorney for work previously done, it will be more difficult to find another attorney. It never hurts to ask though.
Child custody disputes are common. If your husband has representation, then you should as well. Consider alternative means of raising money to fight this important fight. Borrow money from friends or family or consider a loan against your 401(k) if you have one. Many attorneys will represent you with some sort of payment plan if you have the capacity to pay them back. In any case, this is much too important to skip or even go unreprested.
This response does not create an attorney client relationship nor should the advice be relied upon because it is not specific to your legal situation. Before you depend on legal advice, you should retain competent counsel.
If the case has been filed and you have either been served or acknowledged service, then you need to file an answer & counterclaim to keep the case from being completed without your knowledge. Generally, domestic cases can't go into "default," but if you fail to file a responsive pleading, then the plaintiff could schedule the case for a final hearing without notice to you and obtain any relief that the court would grant.
Custody cases are very complicated. You need to find a way to pay your lawyer to handle this as contested, if it can't be worked out. Don't try to do this alone.
Nothing contained herein shall be considered or construed as creating an attorney client relationship between the party asking the question and the attorney. All legal problems are different. The answer given is only a general response based upon the facts provided and should not be considered specific advice for your case. Always contact a lawyer for advice about your particular circumstances and issues.
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