It Pays to Represent Yourself in Post Divorce Motions
Posted Sep 06 2009 4:19pm
Breaking a Year Long Silence....
It has been exactly one year since my last original posting, and my return is a statement of a renewed desire to expose a failed system. One in which divorce is treated as a purely economic transaction with no acknowledgment or recognition of the emotional costs and dramatic impact on the children or the utter devastation to the family.
In order to regain some composure as well as privacy, I was advised to cease my postings based on a professional recommendation; my therapist believed it was necessary for me to reestablish personal boundaries between my ex and myself. I felt I was being muzzled even though no personal information had been divulged, and I wrote under an alias, in fact, to protect my identity. And yet, it wasn't enough. However important and healthy it was for me to share my thoughts and reactions to others experiences, the need for distance became paramount.
The problem presented in response to a motion I filed in court to collect on thousands of dollars in unreimbursed medical, extracurricular and other child care related expenses amassed over 3 years. I prepared the motion myself with the intention of presenting my oral arguments pro se (legal jargon for acting on my own without legal representation). Having used several attorneys to reach a legal divorce and then having to seek legal help for a post-judgment issue 3 years ago, I calculated the cost of using an attorney as untenable. If I were to win any monetary award, it would go to pay attorney's fees, leaving me with zero, or worse at a loss. I've been there and didn't seen any value in risking further debt. Simple math supports the greater possibility of ending up with cash in hand by going it on my own, and so I did. While I did not prevail--the Judge ruled the case a draw--at least I didn't come out owing an attorney. I felt richer just for that. However, in the counter motion, my ex cited posting from the first Endless Divorce blog, albeit anonymous and without any personal data, to defame my character.
Given the generalized nature of the postings and subject matter, it is difficult to determine how these posting were ascribed to me and me only. Right or wrong, the accusation was made and my therapist strongly suggested that I stop contributing to the blog site in order to regain some privacy and establish boundaries--a common courtesy that "he" chooses to break down at every opportunity.
Amazingly, I just completed a second round of financial reimbursement requests in family court, again Pro Se, and having come out the other side, more wizened, I am ready to write again. This time with a network of willing contributors and newcomers anxious for the insights.
You'll see that I have posted a survey requesting anyone who is going through or survived a divorce in NJ to reflect on your legal representation--would you recommend your attorney to others or would you warn women away? There's no better help than firsthand experience.
Please complete the survey (in the column) to spare other women from paying for legal services that don't measure up.