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Newest Member: Dha0128 (46042)

User Topic: Another horrible lawyer story, advice needed.
Want2help
♀ 20547
Member # 20547
Flame  Posted: 3:40 PM, May 15th (Thursday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

My apologies in advance if this gets long.


Last summer we hired an adoption attorney. It is a stepparent adoption, completely uncontested. We are not the adopting party, FWH is giving up his rights to the stepparent of the child being adopted.

We were told 4-6 months, from beginning to end. We looked at the websites of almost every adoption attorney in the area, and this was the general consensus.

We chose a woman whose name seemed well known, and who had a no-nonsense air about her. We paid a flat fee for the service. Since that time she has been our attorney, and the other party has not hired representation. We are also paying all fees associated with the adoption.

The problems first started with the paperwork. The attorney would forget to mail paperwork, and even once sent the other party's paperwork to our address (with their names on it).

Then she lost her bank statement, and didn't remember cashing a substantial check from us. she wanted another check. Instead we took her bank statements and copies of the cashed check, with her signature on it. She said she'd "take our word for it".

Then our calls/emails went unanswered. No word for 6 months. I emailed her repeatedly the other night, and she FINALLY sent me one quick email saying that she had forgotten to file something, but she would do it the next day, and that they should "dismiss the case" over her mistake. She apologized for the delay, and blamed it on work (previously she has blamed it on personal issues).

Well, I finally contacted another attorney in the area. I left a message saying we were unsatisfied with our current attorney, please call me back so we can discuss our options. He was able to guess just from that who our attorney was, because he has had to finish so many of her cases recently.

He said that she has violated ethics because in our state, you cannot represent both the adopting party and the party relinquishing rights. So, she is either their attorney, or our attorney. If she is our attorney, essentially the adopting party (step dad and birth mom)need to have their own attorney to file the petition in their name (which our attorney has already done).

Also, he said that while she is a competent attorney, he has heard many, many stories of her "forgetfulness", particularly recently. He said "I wish I could say that this is unusual for her, but I have spent the past year begging her clients to give her another chance when it is not my job to do so."

Of course, he wants either another flat fee, or a retainer (a moderate retainer compared to other attorneys), which at this moment we are not in the position to pay. If we did pay hm, he'd be the other party's attorney, so that he could demand she hand over the file to him for him to finish the adoption. If we hired him as our own attorney, he would likely have to start form scratch.

He also stated that he has done many adoptions in the past year, and all have taken 4-6 months, so our attorney's claims about the state being "backlogged are unfounded.


So here's the kicker: two days ago I sent her a strongly worded, yet polite, email asking her for the timeline of steps still needed for the adoption to be complete, some clarification on a couple of things she's said, and asking her to send the final bits of paperwork to my FWH for him to sign (she claimed they came back as "no such address", which could only be her fault as we have lived here for years).

I have yet to hear ANYTHING from her. It's been 48 hours.

I recently found out she is running for political office. She has been "tweeting" and updating her professional page almost hourly for weeks, so I know she can check and reply to her damned email.

What do I do? Contact the bar? Will that risk her quitting? Or possibly make her drag her feet even more?

Do I tell her we've consulted with another attorney?

I am at a loss. I just want this OVER WITH.



BS- me.
FWS- him.
DDay 6/07 (immediately separated)
RDay 8/07
OC born 3/08
OC Adopted 2014

Reconciled


Posts: 2356 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: PNW
Rebreather
♀ 30817
Member # 30817
Default  Posted: 4:31 PM, May 15th (Thursday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I would tell her she has a week to make progress on your file or you are filing a bar complaint or hiring another lawyer and you expect a refund for uncompleted work. Go hardball.


Me BS
Him WH
2 ddays in '07
Rec'd.
"The cure for the pain, is the pain." -Rumi

Posts: 6693 | Registered: Jan 2011
Nature_Girl
♀ 32554
Member # 32554
Default  Posted: 4:50 PM, May 15th (Thursday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

If she quits, you're no worse off than you are right now. Let's face facts. She's not going to get this adoption done.


Me = BS (Stay-at-home-mom)
Him = EX-d out (abusive troglodyte NPD SA)
3 tween-aged kids
Together 20 years
D-Day: Memorial Weekend 2011
2013 - DIVORCED!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJgjyDFfJuU

Posts: 10153 | Registered: Jun 2011 | From: USA
Too_Trusting
♀ 99
Member # 99
Default  Posted: 6:10 PM, May 15th (Thursday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I agree with Rebreather. Give her a definite timeline to make some APPRECIABLE progress with the adoption or you will terminate her representation and expect a refund of the remaining funds in your Trust account. Since she quoted you a flat fee, that does muddy the waters a bit. A flat fee is supposed to be the cost of legal services from beginning to end. She may say that if you terminate her representation, you forfeit anything remaining from the fee you paid. However, it doesn't sound like she has made much progress in this process. If you feel like she has completed maybe 50% of what she contracted to do, then tell her you want 50% of your fees back. But, like I said - a flat fee case is different than a retainer where an attorney charges fees earned against the balance in the Trust account.

I suspect she simply isn't capable of completing this work. Seems that she is too focused on her political campaign and her legal clients are suffering for it.

I would not tell her you are going to file a complaint with the Bar Association, though. If an attorney is put into an adversarial position with their client, the Bar may say that it would be impossible for her to fairly represent your best interests.

IF she doesn't accomplish anything tangible within your time limit, then I would proceed with terminating her representation and try to recover some of the fees you paid her. THEN, I would file a formal complaint with the bar. She cannot take your $$ and accomplish nothing. She is also skating on very thin ice with all of the mis-directed mail and poorly filed documents.

My gut tells me you will ultimately have to hire the other attorney. That sucks, but this one seems either incompetent or completely unfocused on her legal clients. I would also NOT sign anything she asks you to sign with regards to possibly forfeiting any rights you may have to seek damages from her at a later date. You may have a cause of action for legal malpractice and could potentially sue her in civil court (or small claims, depending on the $$ amount) for the additional legal fees you had to pay another attorney because of her inattention.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but spent 10 years working as a Paralegal. This is not legal advice, so it's worth what you paid for it - NOTHING!


"Anyone perfect must be lying; anything easy has its cost. Anyone plain can be lovely; anyone loved can be lost." Barenaked Ladies

Posts: 2498 | Registered: Jun 2002 | From: North Carolina
Jeaniegirl
♀ 6370
Member # 6370
Default  Posted: 9:13 PM, May 15th (Thursday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

File a complaint with your state bar association. It's people like her that gives the rest of us attorneys a bad reputation.


"Because I deserve better"

Posts: 1041 | Registered: Feb 2005
lynnm1947
♀ 15300
Member # 15300
Default  Posted: 7:03 AM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

She's running for office? Bet she wouldn't want this to hit the media!!!!!!!!!


Age: 64..ummmmmmm, no...............65....no...oh, hell born in 1947. You figure it out!

"I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance." Garth Brooks


Posts: 7518 | Registered: Jul 2007 | From: Toronto, Canada
Williesmom
♀ 22870
Member # 22870
Default  Posted: 7:25 AM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I would be sitting in her office when she comes in.

It's a lot harder to ignore someone in person.


You can stuff your sorries in a sack, mister. -George Costanza
There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women. - Madeleine Albright

Posts: 7866 | Registered: Feb 2009 | From: Western PA
Pentup
♀ 20563
Member # 20563
Default  Posted: 10:32 AM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I would be in her office. If that is not possible, I would leave her a voicemail stating that if you do not hear from her by Monday at 3:00, you will be
A. Hiring another attorney and suing her to get your money back and finishing the adoption.
B. reporting her to the state bar
C. Calling her opponent to detail how forgetful and inept she is.

Good luck


Me- BS
Him- FWS (I hope- F)

Posts: 6718 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: Not Oz
tushnurse
♀ 21101
Member # 21101
Default  Posted: 11:53 AM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Running for office???
Yah um I would tell her she has 24 hours to respond, or you will be there with channel whatever news to fill the public in on how she fails to complete tasks she is hired to do and therefore not a good candidate to serve the people.


Me: FBS
Him: FWS
Kids: 15 & 17
Married for 22 years now, was 16 at the time. .
D-Day Sept 26 2008
Fully R'd, and Happy Happy Happy

Posts: 8899 | Registered: Oct 2008 | From: St. Louis
Want2help
♀ 20547
Member # 20547
Default  Posted: 8:10 PM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

If she quits, you're no worse off than you are right now. Let's face facts. She's not going to get this adoption done.

I may be wrong, but I believe if she quits we have to start all over again. Another couple thousand dollars for an attorney, another $250 for filing fees, etc.

I would be sitting in her office when she comes in.

It's a lot harder to ignore someone in person.

We actually did this when she accused FWH of not paying her. We sat at her office with copies of the checks (from the bank) proving that she cashed them. She never showed up, and she doesn't have anyone else working for her.


The other night, when she replied to ONE of my emails (while updating a Top Ten list on her Twitter), she mentioned that she had forgotten to file some paperwork, but she "didn't think the case would be dismissed over it". So, now it sounds like we're in danger of having the case dismissed! I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.

So, that next morning, I emailed her this:

(Attorney),

I am aware that your political campaign is time consuming, but as your client we still expect some kind of response to address our concerns.

Please send us whatever paperwork my husband needs to sign at our home address:

(our address)

Also, please email an approximate timeline of what steps still need to be completed before the adoption can be finalized (DHS waiver, court date, etc.), as well as the time in which you expect these to occur. Telling me you expect the judge "to sign" tells me absolutely nothing when we have not been kept informed on the progress of the adoption. Do you mean you expect the adoption to be final at that point? Please clarify.

I hope to hear from you by the end of the day.

-Want2help

Guess what? Crickets. No response whatsoever.


At this point financially, there is no "hiring another attorney". It just isn't in the cards for us. The chunk of money we gave to this attorney was all of our expendable income.


Should I email her again? Give her an ultimatum?


[This message edited by Want2help at 8:10 PM, May 16th (Friday)]


BS- me.
FWS- him.
DDay 6/07 (immediately separated)
RDay 8/07
OC born 3/08
OC Adopted 2014

Reconciled


Posts: 2356 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: PNW
little turtle
♀ 15584
Member # 15584
Default  Posted: 8:27 PM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Shouldn't you be able to get your money back if she didn't follow through with what you paid for??

There's got to be something you can do!!

Can you take her to court?


Failure is success if we learn from it.

Posts: 4247 | Registered: Aug 2007 | From: michigan
Want2help
♀ 20547
Member # 20547
Default  Posted: 9:10 PM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Shouldn't you be able to get your money back if she didn't follow through with what you paid for??

There's got to be something you can do!!

Can you take her to court?

I really don't know. The other attorney we've had a consultation with said that she hasn't technically broken any laws, just ethics violations and poor handling of our case.

Once this adoption is done, she will spend the rest of her life scrubbing negative reviews from the internet.


BS- me.
FWS- him.
DDay 6/07 (immediately separated)
RDay 8/07
OC born 3/08
OC Adopted 2014

Reconciled


Posts: 2356 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: PNW
Amazonia
♀ 32810
Member # 32810
Default  Posted: 9:52 PM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Am I correctly understanding that you are doing all of this simply for your husband to relinquish his parental rights so that his biological child can be adopted by someone else?

Why are you footing the entire bill?

I mean, I understand your frustrations with the attorney, but why isn't the adopting family helping with the expenses - especially if you could hire a second/new attorney as "their" representative as a cheaper alternative to get it done, shouldn't they be paying for that??


"You yourself deserve your love and affection as much as anybody in the universe." -Buddha
"Let's face it, life is a crap shoot." -Sad in AZ

Posts: 13934 | Registered: Jul 2011
Want2help
♀ 20547
Member # 20547
Default  Posted: 11:48 PM, May 16th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Amazonia, the child being adopted is the child mentioned in my tagline. I'd elaborate, but this thread would need to be moved to General.

Suffice to say that the birth mother has a history of selfishness.

No, the adopting family doesn't want to pay for any of it. They fought even even paying a $10 charge for their own criminal background check, when it is well within their means.

I contacted the birth mother regarding the adoption. She would throw it in my H's face during child support hearings, but never initiated any proceedings or made any move for it to happen, and it is something my H (and I) desperately want.

Last year I found out that the birth mother was lying to everyone we know, telling people that her H had adopted the child when in fact he had not. I also found out that the birth mother was trying to have the child's last name changed to her new H's last name. I initiated contact and asked if she was interested in having her H adopt the child, as she had said during the child support hearing.

Her response was "Yes, and I'd like you to get it done in a timely manner."

But, I digress. That's another conversation for another thread.

[This message edited by Want2help at 12:01 AM, May 17th (Saturday)]


BS- me.
FWS- him.
DDay 6/07 (immediately separated)
RDay 8/07
OC born 3/08
OC Adopted 2014

Reconciled


Posts: 2356 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: PNW
Amazonia
♀ 32810
Member # 32810
Default  Posted: 2:56 AM, May 17th (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Unless you have a legal obligation to do this, or if you all/your husband are financially bound to this woman until it happens, I'd be tempted to be make it her financial problem. It doesn't seem like she's much encumbered by the adoption not going through, given that she's already changed the child's name and is living as if it were finished.

If she wants it, she gets her own representation and it happens.

ETA: I don't mean to diminish the emotional aspect of this - it just sounds like trying to accomplish it is creating MORE pain and trouble, rather than reducing what you're already experiencing just because of the child's origin.

[This message edited by Amazonia at 3:28 AM, May 17th (Saturday)]


"You yourself deserve your love and affection as much as anybody in the universe." -Buddha
"Let's face it, life is a crap shoot." -Sad in AZ

Posts: 13934 | Registered: Jul 2011
Catwoman
♀ 1330
Member # 1330
Default  Posted: 4:45 AM, May 17th (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I would give her a reasonable amount of time to square things away before I file a complaint with the Bar Association and send a copy of the complaint to all possible local media. He behavior is unacceptable.

Cat


FBS: Married 20 years, 2 daughters 25 and 22. Divorced by the grace of GOD.
D-Days: 2/23/93; 10/11/97; 3/5/03
Ex & OW Broke up 12-10
"An erection does not count as personal growth."

Posts: 29739 | Registered: Apr 2003 | From: Massachusetts
Want2help
♀ 20547
Member # 20547
Default  Posted: 12:28 PM, May 17th (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Unless you have a legal obligation to do this, or if you all/your husband are financially bound to this woman until it happens, I'd be tempted to be make it her financial problem.

He is. Presently, under our current circumstances, it isn't a substantial amount, and is accruing monthly in "back support".

In the past, it has been a substantial amount, and in the next two or so years (without going into detail), we expect our circumstances to change, which will result in the amount (of child support) once again being a very substantial amount.

This if my H's reasoning to have the adoption done. Once these changes in our circumstances occur, it will be an incentive to the birth mother to NOT go through with the adoption.

Also, currently, the birth mother is basically entitled to 25% of any money that FWH receives. While we do not expect any windfalls of cash, small things like a settlement for an injury FWH received from work, birth mother was entitled to a quarter of it, and it was taken before the check ever made it to FWH. He'd like her not to be entitled to anything of the sort in the future.

given that she's already changed the child's name and is living as if it were finished.

She didn't go through with the name change. Her excuse to me was that it was expensive and she thought me and FWH would "fight her" (probably true, I can't imagine FWH consenting to a name change without the adoption).

The child being adopted has been lead to believe that the birth mother's husband is her her biological father. That is the birth mother's reason for wanting the adoption.

My reasoning for having it done, other than the financial aspect, is the constant judgement and guilt I live with on a daily basis for the simple fact that this is my husband's child, not just biologically but legally. I have been told I am not a "real woman" and not a "real mother" (and not just by the birth mother) because I do not force my H to have visitation with the child being adopted. It is my hopes that the adoption being finalized will help alleviate some of this guilt.


I spoke with the other attorney again, briefly. I described where our attorney claimed to be in the process (by what paperwork she had just submitted after I wrote her, she seems incapable of submitting anything without constant reminders).

He said that if that is the case, the bulk of the work is done, and it should only take 5-6 weeks AT THE MOST.

He is still willing to step in and help, should we be able to come up with the funds.

However, there is still work to be done on our attorney's part, and getting her to actually DO HER JOB is the issue.

My question is, should I give her another ultimatum? Was my last email enough? (The email she has yet to respond to).

[This message edited by Want2help at 11:39 AM, May 18th (Sunday)]


BS- me.
FWS- him.
DDay 6/07 (immediately separated)
RDay 8/07
OC born 3/08
OC Adopted 2014

Reconciled


Posts: 2356 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: PNW
Amazonia
♀ 32810
Member # 32810
Default  Posted: 7:40 PM, May 17th (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I understand. I didn't realize about the support payments.

And this

constant judgement ... I live with on a daily basis for the simple fact that this is my husband's child, not just biologically but legally. I have been told I am not a "real woman" and not a "real mother" (and not just by the birth mother) because I do not force my H to have visitation

is 100% bull shit. Sorry anyone is such a fuckwit as to suggest that to you.

Does the useless lawyer know you've talked to someone else?


"You yourself deserve your love and affection as much as anybody in the universe." -Buddha
"Let's face it, life is a crap shoot." -Sad in AZ

Posts: 13934 | Registered: Jul 2011
Want2help
♀ 20547
Member # 20547
Default  Posted: 11:36 AM, May 18th (Sunday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Sorry anyone is such a fuckwit as to suggest that to you.

Thank you. I was dropped by quite a few friends initially (mostly single moms, who apparently identified with the birth mother's plight more than mine, so I guess they weren't that good of friends after all). Also, my MIL and SIL. But anyway...

Does the useless lawyer know you've talked to someone else?

No, and I just saw on her Facebook last night that she is apparently STILL taking on clients!

I feel like calling her and demanding that she resign from our case, release the files, and refund us a portion (if not ALL) of the flat fee we paid her, but then the other attorney would still want at least another $1,000...

I don't know if I've said this before, but once this is finished, our attorney will need to hire someone to scrape the internet clean of my review. Because I intend to chronicle everything she has put us through on every review site available.


BS- me.
FWS- him.
DDay 6/07 (immediately separated)
RDay 8/07
OC born 3/08
OC Adopted 2014

Reconciled


Posts: 2356 | Registered: Aug 2008 | From: PNW
cayc
♀ 21964
Member # 21964
Default  Posted: 12:07 PM, May 18th (Sunday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

My mom is president of her HOA and they went through this. The were suing an insurance company to pay it's portion of unit repairs and the lawyer they had, local, came *highly* recommended did what your lawyer is doing to you. Missed filing dates, didn't respond, and in the same way you have described, generally mishandled things.

So they hired another attorney, had that one not only take over the issue but sue the first one for all the paperwork, fees and whatnot. It worked it self out, took about a year longer to get stuff settled than it would have done if the first lawyer had done her job ... but my point in telling you this story is that yes, find another lawyer and have him/her handle both issues (the child adoption part and the sue the first attorney part). You'll wind up paying a little more, but you'll also get some of your money back and you'll get the issue resolved which I think in both the SR and LR is your goal. This problem you have is the sort that will fester and cause huge problems in the future if you don't bite the bullet and throw the kitchen sink at solving it now.

(((want2help)))


"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott

Posts: 3207 | Registered: Dec 2008 | From: Mexico
Topic Posts: 26
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