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My L's office helping WW, tell me it ain't so!!! (Long)

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pjkmkjm23 posted 5/31/2013 20:38 PM

Hi all,

We live in a small town (max pop: ~10K) where everyone is either related to each other or certainly knows of and/or about each other. I used to love Not so much.

I'm not thrilled with my L but don't really have options either. When I can finally talk to him he does seem concerned and on my side but it's clear he is overworked and not dedicating the time I need him too. He told me from the beginning he would have a young law student handling a lot of my case but he would oversee everything. I was told to CC all emails to her, and I have.

My STBXWW is absolutely fantastic at making new friends and instantly likable by most people. She is not good at maintaining friendships as people seem to start distancing themselves once they get to know her or realize how manipulative she can be. I'm just speculating on why she doesn't seem to maintain these new friends, but it seems right to me. The one thing without a doubt is she is very manipulative and vindictive and she will do anything or use anyone to achieve what she wants.

I have suspected for sometime that my STBXWW has been keeping tabs on me and my plans and I've been surprised about some things she knew that I didn't think it was possible for her to know. I even remember being so paranoid at one point last year that I thought she had some kind of recording device in my home and even looked for it.

Well, a couple of months ago I ran into a big problem with my well and no longer had any water. Due to my very northern location I had to wait for the snow and frost to melt for this problem to be resolved. At the beginning, I thought it was best for my kids to stay with their Mom full time and that I would pick them up often until they could return home. There are more reasons why I HAD to do this but I don't want this to be to long, and I can tell it's going to be already. I was not happy doing this whatsoever and did not expect this to last more than 2 months, but it did....and that was at least double what I ever expected it could be! Also, I never could have anticipated how horrible my STBXWW would become during this time. She immediately began refusing me access to my kids by making up excuses that her and POSOM had plans with the kids or other lies (kids verified these lies to me and were very unhappy) to the point where I gave up trying and instead became sneaky about how I would see the kids, eg. picking them up from school during their lunch hour, talking to them on phone when they were at friends, etc. STBXWW made it as impossible as she could for us to talk on phone or over internet while kids were in her home. I complained about this every time via email to my L and documented everything. Surprisingly, STBXWW would have her L complain to my L about my behavior during these times I reported and usually would have a different story that would paint her in a good light with me as the evil monster - first! I was always surprised (and even somewhat impressed) that she was doing this and assumed it was her strategy to alienate the kids from me while covering her tracks for doing this.

2 weeks ago I finally got everything fixed and informed STBXWW that we could resume our current temp custody arrangement. Had we been following our schedule all along, the first weekend after this would have been hers with the kids but I emailed a request to her for the kids that wknd considering the fact that I hadn't had them for ~10 weeks. She denied my request. The next time I had the kids after that wknd, the kids informed me that Mom and POSOM had went away on a planned trip for the wknd and the kids were left in the care of babysitters the entire time! What a bitch?!! Instead of allowing me to have my kids she'd rather leave them with babysitters!! Again, I emailed a complaint to my L about this. I was informed by his asst. that L was gone away for the week on business.

Next week STBXWW and I and our respective L's have a meeting with the children's L to hear the findings of their research into our lives and what their recommendations will be to a judge should we proceed to trial. Apparently we will be given a chance to mediate afterwards in an attempt to avoid trial. So hearing that my L is gone for the week and no appt. was scheduled for us to discuss anything before this important meeting next week I was understandably disheartened. I decided to email all my concerns, complaints, and hopes and what I'd be willing to settle for minimum and what I'd offer for that regarding our children to my L in the hopes he would at least read that before this meeting and be somewhat prepared.

Needless to say, I've sent many emails of very personal information to my L. I never got one single response, until 2 days ago....

The first response was from L's asst. and there was no acknowledgement of any of my previous emails. Instead, this email claimed that the children's L was demanding proof that my well/water situation was resolved. I was astounded and very upset...but immediately drove to town and got the company I hired to write a letter for me and then took it to L's office. When I handed it personally to my L's asst. she questioned where the water quality test was...which I didn't have one. I explained that we're on the same well and nothing has changed with the water we'd been drinking from the previous 5 years and that only some parts (foot valve, Ventura, etc) had been replaced. This asst. then said that I NEED this water quality test done and alluded that unless I had it, I shouldn't have had the children come home yet. I got very upset and choked up as I stated this is finally my weekend with the kids and that I have running water in the home which is good for showering/baths and that I have a water cooler with bottled water for drinking so I didn't see what the problem was, and that testing could take a week or 2 more as we have to mail the sample away to the nearest testing facility. This L's asst....who is supposed to be on my side, then stated that she's not sure if that would suffice but she would email the children's L to ask for me. I immediately left as I was getting so upset and didn't want anyone seeing me cry.

Yesterday I spent the day feeling very sorry for myself and beyond frustrated. I couldn't stop thinking about all of this. Then it occurred to me....why would the children's L be interested in this? Their mandate is to find out what our home life is like, determine what the kids want, and then recommend to the courts where the kids should live and which parent if any should have custody. Why would they care about the quality of my water and if so, shouldn't they also be concerned about my STBXWW leaving for the entire wknd and leaving the kids in the care of the babysitter, amongst many other, even worse, incidents with my STBXWW and kids? Also, the children's L never asked me to send the kids to STBXWW's in the first place when the well went...that was my decision alone (and a preemptive one at that as I was sure my STBXWW would get CAS or someone involved otherwise). Finally, I remembered my DD6 telling me the first day she came home last week that Mom told her not to drink my water and that Daddy's water is bad and has germs and DD6 was very worried about it until I showed her the water cooler I had and how to use it and I assured her it's very safe (hell, the tap water is safe too...but I don't mind erring on the side of caution). So I emailed my L's asst. back and asked her to forward me this request she received from the children's L demanding proof about my water.

First thing this morning, I got a reply from my L's asst. It started off:

In light of (my L's name) absence this week, I took it upon myself to request proof of your well this week...

And then just a couple more sentences of her justifications but nothing of substance. It ended with an assurance that she would talk to my L about this when he is back.

I was floored by this! She outright lied to me in her first email claiming that the children's L was requesting this proof! I think she believed I would just let my STBXWW keep the children until I got positive test results back of my well water and never anticipated me demanding proof that the children's L actually did request this! When I did and she was basically cornered, she admitted via email that she actually requested it, not the children's L. She's supposed to be on MY side!!! I know this may seem paranoid but if true, this makes an awful lot of sense to me....I now fully believe that my L's asst. must be friends with my STBXWW and/or POSOM and she's been leaking EVERYTHING I've ever written to my L to them!!! STBXWW has been using her for info on me somehow or at the very least, directed her into doing this. As stated earlier, my STBXWW is known for using people to get her way or revenge! If this is true, what a breach of privacy and my trust?!! I have written so much about everything to them in hopes of getting my children and protecting their futures!! Even if this isn't true, what the hell was this all about? Is this not wrong at some level? I obviously will be talking to my L face to face about this next week and hope to get to the bottom of it but I need to know if my anger and feeling of betrayal is justified, and what I can expect of my L and how he should handle this and restore my faith.

Any opinions and suggestions or just plain ole comments are very welcome! This whole process is all new to me and I have no experience with L's, the court system, any of this. I'm sorry for the length of this but wanted to make sure I got across everything I felt was relevant.

One last thing, when I picked up the kids this afternoon from school because I refuse to give up another weekend, DD6 told me she was happy to be spending the weekend with me but also sad as OM is going to be very, very sad that she's coming here. I asked her if OM said this. She replied no, mommy told her this and that OM was crying that DD6 is leaving to spend the weekend with me and he's going to miss her so very much. I'm DISGUSTED! That bitch wants to make my DD6 feel guilty for coming home with me?! This, along with the fact that DD6 has also recently told me that Mom is encouraging her to call OM Dad and to tell him she loves him is making me think I need to get my kids away from their mother permanently, or at least until she gets some help. (Btw, not just these couple of things...there are many, many other things that make me believe their Mother being around them anymore is not healthy for them at all!).

Thanks for reading.

gonnabe2016 posted 5/31/2013 21:12 PM

I also live in a small-town atmosphere and have dealt with a similar breach-of-trust issue.

In my situation....
My L is a divorce L that is in a partnership with a criminal defense guy that is total besties with Sultan's good friend and biggest business client. Sultan had a problem with me using her as my L because he didn't want any *confidential* financial info being leaked to his business client. Ok. Understandable. I addressed the issue with her. Got told *complete confidence*.

Lawyers operate under very strict ethical guidelines. Client confidentiality being one of them. Unethical behavior can lead to dis-barrment...which leads to *no income* for them.

Anyway. My family has always done a March Madness pool and this *big* client has been invited to join for the past two years. The day after the selection of teams this year (which I was not a part of), I received a text that seemed to imply that I had told my L <something>. Well, it didn't take a rocket scientist to put together that Sultan had been with his friend the night before...who ALSO happens to be MY L's partner. I placed an immediate call to my L and called her on the carpet because I've had enough betrayal in my life and I don't give a shit if I live in a small town or not....I'm not dealing with that type of shit anymore. Especially when it is not accurate.

Pj, if you honestly think that the paralegal is feeding your WW confidential need to address it with your L. Send your L a letter or an email that spells out your concerns. I called my L up and my first words to her were "WTF?".

Your anger and feelings are completely justified. Schedule an appointment with your actual L and tell him/her EXACTLY what your concern is....and make sure to include the fact that it's a small town and people are inclined to 'talk'.

Your WW encouraging your kids to call OM dad is so far out of the realm of wrong that it defies description. Your kids HAVE a dad. That dad is YOU. I advocate and try to apply the notion of *least amount of contact as possible*....but I'm not so sure that I could let that one go. Call the POSOM by his name or whatever.....but that dude will NEVER be *dad*.

debbysbaby posted 5/31/2013 21:15 PM

Wow, this is appalling on many fronts.

I am sorry for your dilemma and wish I had something helpful to say, but I don't. I wonder if you could bait your L's assistant with a tidbit of info that if leaked would get back around to you?

Perhaps someone with more legal knowledge will come along with advise and info on your possible recourse here.

I'd not discuss anything via a for the time being though.

stronger08 posted 6/1/2013 04:03 AM

Thinking that collusion between your XWW and the assistant is one thing. Having hard evidence is another. But if this is so it leaves your attorney open to some serious sanctions. And a legal malpractice suit as well. Personally I would talk to my attorney first and tell him of my suspicions. He knows the ramifications if his assistant is leaking privledged information. If he does not take action go to the judge presiding over your case and explain. There is also the state bar association as an option. This is a serious situation. Dig deeper my friend and get your suspicions confirmed.

roughroadahead posted 6/1/2013 07:55 AM

A confidentiality breach, especially to the opposing party is a potentially serious issue. Even if it was the assistant, the L is responsible. You can either take up your concerns with your L, or you can call up your state bar and find out the process for filing a grievance. This is not the same as legal malpractice (which is crazy to prove, since it has to affect the outcome of the case). The disciplinary counsel will then contact your L, and decide the sanctions.

Catwoman posted 6/1/2013 10:40 AM

Talk to your attorney about all of this, and then mutually decide if he is going to have the bandwidth to take your case or not. Tell him that you are not going to deal with the associate any longer--you want to deal with him.

That being said, the associate may have been trying to ward off potential issues. After all, you've been copying them on your issues with your STBXW and they must understand what a whack job she is.

I would also ask about a GAL in this situation seeing that you are dealing with heavy-duty parental alienation. I wonder if going to a larger town and hiring a heavy hitter isn't what you need.


pjkmkjm23 posted 6/1/2013 11:59 AM

Thank you all so much for the responses so far....I've read them quickly and will do a proper response when I don't have my kids....I really want to enjoy every moment of my weekend with them and I want them to enjoy it too!

I don't understand what GAL is. Also, I think you're on to my predicament...I can't really prove anything here as it's basically circumstantial evidence and mostly assumptions. In my gut I know I'm right though. So much depends on what my L will say and how he handles it....but I fear he'll protect his asst.

I don't really have the option for another L for various reasons either. If I lose the one I have I'm basically going to self-represent, which is not impossible for me....I'm a quick learner and I like to read....but obv I would much prefer having a L. My STBXWW unfortunately has a very good L and she has rubbed my face in that fact as she can afford him I have no idea but suspect OM is footing the bill

I guess what I'm mainly looking for from my OP is what do I have here that is concrete? Do I have a leg to stand on to do anything if needed? Again, once I talk to my L my reaction will depend hugely on what he says and how he intends to handle this but if he looks to brush it off and doesn't care, what can I say or point out to him to change his mind and let him know I'm fully aware of my options and what I could do? My ultimate goal is to get my L's undivided attention and to light a fire under him to get him really working for me and my children. I don't feel I've been getting that all along, and I need it, and my STBXWW has provided many instances where a better, inspired and dedicated L would probably have pounced!

Thanks again.

roughroadahead posted 6/1/2013 12:15 PM

Is the assistant an attorney or a paralegal/legal secretary? Are they related in any way?

If they are not related, the L would be stupid to risk his reputation on someone with a big mouth. You should bring your concerns to him. I do think you need another lawyer, because the trust seems to be gone. Someone in another town, who has only the remotest chance of knowing your stbx. I understand what Cat was saying about maybe heading off issues, but I don't understand why it was framed as the children's L requesting it, instead of "Dear Client, given this issue you referenced in your email dated blah, I feel we should consider taking a proactive stance..." or something along those lines.

Now, you're probably right that you don't have evidence to sue your L or anything. However, any collusion between an L or his/her agent and the opposing party (ie not a random third party) is a major ethical breach. If you are not happy with your L's response, the state bar will generally be happy to talk it through with you, they won't demand evidence over the phone. All Ls have an ethical duty of confidentiality.

Finally10 posted 6/1/2013 12:33 PM

GAL is a Guardian Ad Litem - An independent representative appointed by the court to represent the children;s interest, and sometimes a lawyer

UndecidedinMA posted 6/1/2013 13:17 PM

I would first advise the L about the asst behavior. Even if it is not valid just the appearance of the behavior could impact the L's practice.

I would also mention if it continues that you may have to contact the Board of Bar Overseers for your state. They take ethical violations very seriously and do conduct investigations. thsi can result in suspension & even revocation of the L's license even if they did not participate in the behavior but after notice let it continue.

roughroadahead posted 6/1/2013 14:02 PM

If Canada is Ontario, the "state bar" is the Law Society of Upper Canada. Other provinces have something similar.

Phoenix1 posted 6/1/2013 14:44 PM

Definitely talk to your L. If there is ANY hint of breach of confidentiality he has an ethical and legal obligation to act. Before you do, do your homework and find the exact name of the entity that oversees ethical actions for Ls in your province. Talk to that entity first and ask them for the specific sanctions that could result from this if your L does not act.By doing that first you will have the power of knowledge on your side while you talk to your L and he will know you mean business. If he thinks you have no knowledge of those sanctions, he could potentially try to blow it off because you are ignorant of the next steps. Arm yourself with knowledge!

Ashland13 posted 6/1/2013 15:08 PM

HI Pj and Others,

This is a hard thing with Perv, too. He is taking the visitation schedule and constantly changing it, with little to no notice, or late returning DD home.

He is ultra-quick tempered and the advice I've gotten is that it is a last-ditch effort at control over DDs and even my life.

The control part sounds kind of like what your STBXWW might also be doing.

What I've learned from it is that if I have to have any contact with Perv (STBXH) I don't say anything that can't be backed up by L or by law.

He doesn't want to have rules or keep anything the same, but he wants a doormat for his "coparent" and I cannot. So it makes a hard time.

I wonder if this is a control tact aimed at you, PJ.

I'm sorry for your added trouble with the lawyer. We live in a very small area also and have to travel half hour minimum to the bigger town where all the businesses, stores and such are.

It's interesting to see the differences in lawyers that he and I hired, even though they basically are both divorce-based and a few other things.

I'm really sorry there is a breach in the office and wish there was a way to get more contact directly with the lawyer, and I'm sorry it's such a hard situation.

In my mind there aren't many people in life now that I can trust, either and it's really hard.

I'm glad you can get documentation for the water. We have a well and have had a lot of low water pressure lately, but just got a surge of heat and dry weather.

I hope you will be able to figure something out and can find a way to have limited contact with STBXWW.

Athena1979 posted 6/1/2013 15:59 PM

All I can say to this is the poor kids!!!! This is why divorce is bad!
My mom used my brothers and I to seek her revenge on my dad. We always felt guilty if we enjoyed time with our dad.
My mom did itbc she was jealous thatmy dad found someone new rather quickly. My dad and stepmom have been married for 19 years. My mom is still single.
Idk about the attorney. But keep your focus on the kids. You sound like you do so much for them! Good for you!

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