You absolutely need to speak with an experienced family law attorney right away. You also may have a claim for over trial if your husband is found by the court to be over litigating this case. My office offers free initial consultations and we can be reached at (414)225-0225.
Best way is with a lawyer's help. No one here can teach you the rules of procedure and the substantive law so that you can be an atty. Basically, you need to have evidence to support the claims you make as to why he shouldnt have custody and only limited visitation, why you should get child support and spousal support, the financial income/assets and expenses of both parties, proof of what you had to pay for childrens expenses that he should have shared,
what proerty there is and how it should be divided, what debts there are and how they should be divided, etc. Keep in mind that if there are debts you are joinlty responsible for, even if he is ordered to pay some, the creditor may not be bound by the divorce court order, and can still come after you.
I agree with Attorney Kopelson, you need to find a way to hire a lawyer to represent you in order to have an appropriate outcome in your case, based on the facts you have stated. If you can't afford it, many lawyer will take credit cards, or may defer payment until you get your spousal support? You can also reach out to various domestic violence or help centers and women's shelters that will help people that have faced threats or abuse from their spouse for free. Good Luck to you, if you go it alone, make sure to have the legal papers in court for the judge and your ex proving the DUIs and threats!
Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client privilege is created by this communication. Attorney is licensed in California only.
You can't learn what you need to anymore than you could learn abdominal surgery at the same time you performed--although you might reasonably expect the same end result if you attempt to be your own trial attorney. I overstate a bit, but you can expect that if you are not represented by counsel and your husband is, you will NOT optimize your outcome.
READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.
Given all the issues involved you really need to talk to a local divorce attorney ASAP.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
The obvious answer to your question is to seek a family law attorney's assistance and hopeful engagement immediately. The practical answer is for you to review the issues at dispute (i.e., custody, placement, support, property division, debt responsibility, etc.), and appropriately prepare your evidence on each contested subject, as well as any witnesses you intend to call to testify on any disputed subject, to appropriately support your position and your requests for relief from the court on those issues. For example, if you contest custody and/or placement, request the court appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL). Seeing that you have, work as closely as possible with that person to detail why your position is in the children's best interests. Be realistic: no divorce is only one party's fault, even in horrible cases. Prepare detailed information on who has been the primary caretaker, why it is in the best interests of the children to be in your care as primary physical custodian and prepare relevant witnesses to testify in support of your case. If you feel your husband's chemical use is relevant to the issues of custody and placement, obtain information supporting your position through discovery to present at trial. Obtain copies of any chemical assessments, police and DUI and/or drunk and disorderly conduct and incident reports, criminal case findings, etc., that support your position as to why his chemical use is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the children. If domestic abuse is involved, seek assistance from a local domestic abuse advocacy group, and compile evidence corroborating your desire for the court to make findings consistent with your position relative to a documented history. Obtain the documentation of the history of abuse. The bottom line is if you are going to handle the matter yourself, prepare. Though you should seriously consider seeking any type of legal assistance you can obtain, even if just from a trial preparation standpoint, either from a pro bono clinic, legal aid, and/or a local attorney on a limited scope engagement. Good luck!
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