Your financial situation is not very relevant in the custody matter, especially since your estranged husband is part of the reason you are broke. The Court uses a number of factors in determining what is in the children's best interest when deciding who will have primary physical custody, and a person being forced into a shelter versus someone who abandoned the children, probably will win that argument every day. However, again that is not the only factor. You will however, need to do your best efforts to become employed. Possibly a church, synagogue, or other place of worship can help you with that.
As for what the attorney did NOT due. Look for a legal malpractice attorney on this site in your location. He or she may take the case on a contingency, and the firm and that attorney may want to quickly settle the matter so that its not turned over to their malpractice insurance carrier. So in addition to securing housing, the next step is to get the motion filed and served and then definitely speak to a malpractice attorney. He or she will also advise you on filing a complaint with the State Bar of California, which I think is inevitable; however, getting to a malpractice attorney should come first as I don't want to advise you in that area since its not my area.
Good luck and I hope you found this response HELPFUL, if not the BEST ANSWER. You can call my office if you have any questions.
Attorney Williams practices FAMILY LAW throughout the State of California and may be reached at (831) 233-3558 and offers free consultations. The response provided in this forum is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information offered in this response is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon without further consultation with a legal professional after all relevant facts are disclosed and considered. DANIEL S. WILLIAMS, ESQ. LAW OFFICES OF DANIEL S. WILLIAMS 500 LIGHTHOUSE AVENUE, STE. A MONTEREY, CA 93940 (831) 233-3558 -- OFFICE (831) 233-3560 -- FAX
You could sue the attorney for malpractice, and you can complain to the State Bar about the attorney (but that complaint would not result in payment to you). In a malpractice case, your malpractice attorney would need to prove the amount of support that you would have received had your attorney not committed malpractice. You need to substitute out your attorney, and if need be, file and proceed with an RFO for Spousal Support, Child Custody, Child Support, and Attorney's Fees, in Pro Per with the assistance of a volunteer attorney at your Superior Court's Self-Help Clinic.
Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, as each situation is fact specific, and it is not possible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and court pleadings filed in the case. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Re-post your question under practice area - malpractice. Sounds like you could have a claim against the lawyer for legal malpractice. With respect to getting you support, you will need to substitute out the current counsel and either sub-in new counsel or proceed in pro per and file your own request for order regarding support. The order will be retroactive to the date you filed the motion, but unfortunately, will not be retroactive to the date your filed for separation. An attorney may agree to take on your case pro bono with the expectation that he/she can request in your Request for Order that your ex pay or contribute to the cost of your legal fees. Although there is currently no court order, I don't expect the judge will be pleased with your ex's failure to provide any financial support to you and your children.
Depending on the amount of Spousal Support and child support you finally obtain and what you paid the attorney the Attorney you hire may get the fool you retained to pay you all. If not that attorney will be in a lot of hot water, if not already. Go to the California State Bar website look under member search and find out is the attorney really licensed? Are there other complaints against that attorney. I have sued other attorney for malpractice.
My name is Stephen R. Cohen California State Bar #60834, fax 1-888-958-5642, cell phone for appointment only 213-819-1171. I primarily practice in Los Angeles and Orange County but have been admitted other states and countries Pro Hac Vice. I have practiced extensively in Family Law, Criminal Law, and Personal Injury and have forgotten how many trials I have been in. I like to listen to my client's recitation of their version of the facts, and their desired outcome--then pose questions to them to determine the viability of their case and their personal ability to testify. Then I decide if I will take their case (I hate Losing). If I do not want to take your case get a second or third opinion sometimes I am wrong, or we just do not have the chemistry to work together. My hourly rate is $400 plus costs, travel and lodging expenses. I take no contingency fee cases under $500,000. The answers here do not create an attorney-client relationship obviously I would spend a great deal more time with a client even on a small matter.
Of course, but some attorneys also advertising (by posting answers) have called me a blatant and unabashed attorney and after thirty eight years of practice all I can reply is "they can kiss my ass".
Some of the questions lack much detail that would be fleshed out in an extensive office interview and this must be pointed out. Further some of the questions reveal a bias on the questioner's behalf. People and Judges (a few) would benefit from thinking what this looks like from the other side (the opposition) and the Judge's view before firing bullets which may cause self-inflicted wounds such as a irritating the judge or looking foolish. Self-inflicted wounds are the worst and most embarrassing!
Why are attorneys afraid to advertise their hourly rates? Which attorneys can do in 4 hours what I accomplish in 1 hour? Prospective clients might ask that as well. And always leave an attorney's office who promises or guarantees anything as they are either stupid or lying or both. Often times at trial partys and witnesses change or add or forget testimony or there may even be new parties added. Going to trial is like throwing dice, 7 is most often, but there are other combinations and an experienced attorney can only give an educated guess!
Very truly yours,
Stephen R. Cohen