A lot has been going on with my sister’s grueling unending court battle with her sociopathic ex-husband – so much that I have barely been able to keep up with it, let alone write about it. Many of you have asked what’s going on with her so here is the latest update. They had their settlement hearing about a month ago – the one where he was suing her for full custody and to take the child support payments away (she is bankrupt, has lost her job as a graphic designer due to PTSD, and her unemployment has run out). The judge kept everything the same in the hearing – 50/50 custody, continued child support payments. He only made one change – he ordered her ex to take their youngest child (who he is keeping from her to continue to strengthen the PAS) to the psychiatric appointments that had been court-ordered. It was a real “defeat” for her ex, and I’m sure it only made him angrier.
But what a relief it was for her! Although she technically has 50/50 custody, the two younger sons are still living with their father and she has had no access to them (not even on Christmas) – at least on paper, she’s still their mother. Poor thing had to scramble to hire an attorney at the last minute to represent her at that hearing because she doesn’t have the $450/hour to pay an ongoing team of cut-throat lawyers like her ex-husband does (he earns $29k/month – just to give you an idea of the income disparity going on here). He has money to burn – and then some; she has nothing, now.
Two hours after they signed the settlement papers, my sister’s attorney got a call from her ex’s shark-like attorney who said he had changed his mind. They didn’t want to settle (= another big blow to my sister = more $ that she doesn’t have to pay the lawyer yet again). Over the past 10 years (they were divorced 10 years ago, would you believe? This has been going on for ten years – he has hauled her into court so many times and it has cost her so much money that it – well, it is just beyond abusive).
Fast-forward through a bunch of stuff – the judge set a trial date. I don’t know much about family court but apparently a trial is a very different thing than a hearing. This was a two-day trial, serious stuff, with witnesses, in which her ex and his team of highly-skilled, highly-paid attorneys were suing my sister for full custody of two of her three sons yet again, and to take away the child support payments and a few other things but I forget what they are.
His attorney called my sister’s attorney and asked for a continuance (of a couple of months). He said he needed a continuance because he was going to be out of town on another case and couldn’t be there – so her lawyer agreed.
Keep in mind that my sister can’t afford an attorney full-time (who can afford $450 an hour??) so sometimes she represents herself, and sometimes she hires the attorney on and off, on an as-needed basis, to save on costs. Anyway, once they were told about the continuance, my sister breathed a sigh of relief because although it delayed things, it meant she had time to do more footwork and prepare, and her attorney went off to work on other cases, thinking they had a couple of months.
The night before the original trial date was set, her attorney got a call from his attorney who said the trial was “on” for the next day after all (he had not filed the continuance, as he had told her, and I’m assuming my sister’s attorney hadn’t double-check with the court house about the continuance either). Talk about corrupt. They had no choice but to appear in court the next day, completely unprepared and blindsided. My sister brought her oldest son along (he is now 20, living with her after being alienated by his father and brothers, he is the only child who is stable, thriving, and under her care he is even attending college!). She said when they entered the courtroom it was “packed with evil” (her words). She had never seen so many people dressed in cut-throat suits, and every woman lawyer was dripping with ostentation and jewels, which totally revolted her and made such a statement (“it’s all about money”). If anyone can describe a setting, it is a member of our family, and she is no exception. She said:
“As soon as I entered the courtroom I had the strangest feeling I was in a coven, a la Rosemary’s Baby. A female attorney dressed to the nines with five-inch heels, the kind with heels in the front of the shoe and a pin-prick heel on the back, like cloven hooves, actually looked down at my shoes. She did this in such a way that made me look down at my shoes, too. I know they’re ten years old, and they’re not Jimmy Choo’s, but I didn’t know that somehow in my rush to get to the courthouse the flap was sticking out from the heel. Boy did I feel like a heel.”
“A single image kept popping into my mind in that courtroom – an image of huge, salivating, silvery black Great Danes with big kahunas and claws, their slithery tails slithering. Devil dogs.”
(Very descriptive, like I said…)
Her ex stood with his middle son (the one who has the worst PAS and has been alienated from her by his father) and four witnesses (for what?!) – in the courtroom. My sister was sitting with her oldest son, and they were clutching hands tightly. He had tried to go up to his father outside the courtroom when he saw him but he refused to acknowledge him. So instead he sidled up to his younger brother, and just put his arm around him. He hasn’t seen his younger brother in forever, but the younger brother has been forced to pick sides by his father. The brother said one word to him: “What?” so he went away again.
My sister’s lawyer asked the judge for a continuance and explained that she had been told by the opposing attorney that he’d requested a continuance for this trial, and didn’t inform her that there wasn’t any continuance until nine p.m. the night before.
Her ex’s main attorney wasn’t there so his lead attorney told the court a blatant lie: that this was false, no one had requested any continuance, it was just another attempt by her attorney to delay things.
When her attorney heard the lies the opposing attorney was telling the court (I’ve said this before, but the opposing attorney is a big-shot attorney, rather infamous and full of himself), she said to the judge: “I have a voice mail from the attorney. Would you like me to play it?” The judge said yes. The whole courtroom was aghast as my sister’s fantastic attorney then stood posed like the Statue of Liberty, with her hand up high in the air holding up her iPhone so everybody could hear it, playing back a clear message from the attorney asking for a continuance because he would be out of town.
After that, although the other attorney continued to argue that the trial should proceed as scheduled, a move that would’ve decimated my sister’s case, the judge said one sentence:
“I find that voice mail disturbing. Continuance granted.”
And that whole thing, which lasted all of 15 minutes, cost her $1200.
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