Category Archives: legal proceedings

nihil legalis repraesentationem

Okay, I would spare this lawyer.

Okay, I would spare this lawyer.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”

Henry VI, Part 2.  Act 4, Scene 2.

This quote from Shakespeare is often misinterpreted.  Tonight, I am adopting the more popular, more literal and incorrect meaning of this line.

After not being able to arrange a trip for The Kid to come up during The Old Man’s funeral this past February, I decided to retain another attorney to get certain aspects of my divorce decree more clearly defined.  Around that same time, I began talks with Jabba to make arrangements for summer visitation.  (I knew with The New Guy being born in July, she would have dragged her knuckles through the process, so locking down a firm schedule  for summer visitation was paramount).   She expressed reservations about The Kid flying alone – both for The Old Man’s funeral and for summer visitation.  In fact, Jabba’s reluctance to allow The Kid to fly up for the funeral resulted in him missing it altogether.  She wanted me to pay to fly/drive her up with The Kid.  I refused.  I told her that I would never again foot such a bill for her.

At the time of The Kid’s birthday, we could not agree on a time for him to come visit me for the summer.  Jabba argued that his summertime activities were more important than seeing me.  At that point, I retained an attorney with the hopes of possibly seeking mediation.

Six months have passed and I have yet to see The Kid.  Jabba and I haven’t verbally spoken to each other since my father’s funeral. And my lawyer has done nothing.

To say that I am livid is a gross understatement.

I need to fire this guy, I know that.  I need to retain another lawyer, I know that.  I have to get this stuff with visitation – and dealing with Jabba – locked down once and for all.

I have to see my son.

After my actual divorce phoning in my case, then dying; and my second lawyer basically playing dead, I am shell-shocked at the thought of putting my faith in another lawyer again. At the same time, things CANNOT continue the way they are.

I wish the law was different.  I wish I could retain a lawyer here in Michigan.  I’d settle for a lawyer down South just taking my case seriously.

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Where be his quiddities now?

Why, may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? 

(Hamlet, 5.1.97), Hamlet to Horatio

Friday, I finally heard back from The Kid’s “counselor” whom I shall call The Headshrinker – no disrespect to psychologists intended. I told him the situation involving the Kid, Jabba and my thoughts on it.  He told me straight-up that The Kid’s name did not ring a bell.  He said that that could be a good thing or a bad thing.  He wasn’t in his office at the time, and said that he had his office people double-checking his records to see if The Kid had, in fact been in to see him.  He also promised  that he would be back in touch with me , whatever he finds out.

To be honest, I was amazed he discussed as much with me as openly as he did.  I half-expected him to tell me that he had to verify my identity; or that he had to talk to Jabba before he could say anything to me.  I was a little taken aback when he described his experiences with that which I’m convinced has happened here:  that Jabba is making this whole thing up and that The Kid has never been in to see him; or The Kid has been in to see the Headshrinker only because Jabba put him up to it.

Maybe I’m looking to into the conversation, but I feel like I gleaned a whole lot from very little factual information.  My gut tells me that this guy hasn’t even seen The Kid.  When he was running through the different reasons/scenarios as to why he might not remember the Kid’s name, it felt like he was trying to tell me something without actually saying it.

Please don’t misunderstand me:  my worst fear is, of course that The Kid did in fact say that the he wishes he was dead / wants to kill himself.  But again, I do not believe it.  Nothing I’ve seen or head thus far has me suggested to me that Jabba is telling the truth.

This wasn’t the only big news of the last few days. Monday I decided to start making some phone calls, in the event that I have to put together a custody case.  I called a few lawyers here and was told I would need to talk to a lawyer in South Carolina, as my divorce took place there – unless I can get the case moved here – which would probably be next-to-impossible.

I decided to call Greenie’s office – to see if they would send a letter to my ex-landlord as I’m still on the lease for the house Jabba and The Kid live in.  The paralegal informs me that since our lease was only for one year, I’m basically “in the clear”.  When i asked her to have Greenie write a letter to my landlord, informing them that I’ve been out of the house for 18 months, she informs me that Greenie died last week.

I was stunned, in that way that people are when they hear something come out of left field like that.  Instinctively, I asked “are you serious?”  which I’ve always thought was a really stupid question at a moment like that.  Fortunately for me, my divorce case is final – as far as I know.  I was planning to file a grievance with the South Carolina Bar Association for the way in which he handled my case; but that’s irrelevant now.  I didn’t really know this guy personally, and I can’t stand him professionally; but I’m amazed at how much Greenie’s death has affected me personally.

I think in moments like this it’s normal to think about one’s own mortality.  Greenie was 31, or 8 years younger than me.  I’m assuming he was never married as he was dating one of his paralegals.  Thinking about what little I knew about Greenie personally forced me to reflect on my own life.  In spite of how many years I’ve spent in school and feeling like I’ve been spinning my wheels – at times – with teaching, I feel that if I were to die tomorrow, I’ve lived a pretty good life.  I had a dream job; I pursued it, and I became a teacher.  Sure, I spent too many years in a failed marriage; but I got the greatest son in world out of it.   Today, I’m in a fabulous relationship with The Auteur.  We love each other, and we share the same view of what love is and what love should be.  We are both finally divorced and are absolutely psyched about the future.  I have absolutely no plans on checking out anytime soon.

Picard: Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.

Riker: [smiling] Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever.

Captain Picard to commander Riker:  from Star Trek: Generations

A leopard never changes its spots

It's true.

It’s true.

There’s an old Jabba story that Mother likes to tell.  I’m going to share it with you all now, as it speaks volumes about the kind of person Jabba is, was and always will be:

Thanksgiving 1995:  Jabba and I had only been together for a few weeks.  This was in fact our first “couple” holiday. Jabba wanted to bring some kind of dish to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, as is the custom – particularly when formally having dinner in a stranger’s home for the first time.   She decided to pick up a pie from the local Kroger (a regional grocery chain).  No big deal.  When Mother and my grandmother sliced up the pie to pass it around, they complimented Jabba on it.  It wasn’t anything real specific.  The exact wording escapes me, but it was something general, along the lines of “this pie is really good, Jabba.”  It may have even been more direct and included a “Where did you get it?”  Rather than simply saying “thank you” or telling how she found it at Kroger, Jabba took this as an opportunity to distort, twist and re-shape the truth to suit her own ego.  “Oh, I made it myself” she explained.   

It was blatantly obvious to anyone who saw this pie, or the package it came in that it was store-bought.  It came packed in one of those clear deli-style boxes and included a Kroger label, complete with a list of the contents, ingredients, a UPC code and all. Instinctively, I called her out on this. 

I looked at her incredulously.  “No you didn’t.  You bought this at the store.”  I even asked her about it later in the day. “Why would you tell my family you made that pie?  They don’t care that you didn’t make it fresh”.  This was the first, stark example I would have with Jabba and her affinity for bullshit.

Mother and my grandmother saw right through it from day one.  But like the rest of my immediate family and friends would do for the duration of our marriage, they looked past it.  Not because they thought so highly of Jabba; but because they loved me.

It wasn’t a big deal; just a little white lie.  But it served as a precursor of what would come in the months and years ahead. Jabba and bullshit is a love affair that continues to this day, with my last entry being the most recent example.

If that last post feels like I didn’t finish it, it’s because I probably didn’t. Frankly, even thinking about last Thursday’s conversation gets me riled up.  I had my freak-out period, calmed down and returned to my two initial conclusions:

Assuming that Jabba is telling the truth: This would mean that The Kid has been seeing a child psychiatrist for a comment he made upwards of four months ago.  Furthermore, it would mean that Jabba knowingly allowed The Kid into a situation that she knew would make him uncomfortable – namely seeing me and even the possibility of seeing me with The Auteur.  Also, it would mean she put him into this situation without saying one word of it to me.  Finally, it would mean that she has footing the bill for the psychiatrist herself, despite the fact that she has been hounding me about starting child support payments and medical reimbursements.  If this is the case, then shame on her.

Or the other, more likely scenario: Jabba is lying.  The Kid hasn’t seen any psychiatrist and she is that desperate to get a rise out of me or to try to undermine my new life.  Were she as concerned about The Kid as she claims, she would have told me immediately about what he said.  She would have temporarily ignored her personal beef with me and we would have just talked about him.  Alas, she had to fall back on her typical, petty mud-slinging and screaming. Such a level of out-right lying and fabricating facts takes a level of depravity and desperation that I would have – at one time – thought to be beneath even her. If this is the case – as I believe it to be – then shame on her.

This is a pretty black-and-white issue.  She is either telling the truth, or she is lying.  Shame on her, in either case.  Furthermore, if she feels she has lost control and is sinking to such levels of desperation, then I fear what she may try to say, do or accuse me – or one of my loved ones – of doing in the future. My concern now is how and where to go from here.  I have some thoughts on that – but nothing I am willing to commit to HTML.  Yet.

when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object

I got an e-mail from Jabba on Sunday night. Up until now, I’ve been reluctant to talk about it, let alone share it; but a phone conversation I had with her last night has prompted me to finally open up.

Here goes…

The Kid had a meltdown last night. He said some really frightening things and some that I will spare you. It was a gut wrenching night. The issue was his trip to Michigan.

He told me that “I wish my daddy didn’t have a girlfriend because then he’d love me.” He never mentioned The Auteur’s name as he likes her. He doesn’t like the idea of her. He is afraid that you are going to marry her and have a baby and forget about him and not love him. His biggest complaint was that he isn’t get to see Mother, The Old Man and Phred enough while he was in Michigan. He has asked me to speak with you about this. He has asked me to ask you that when he comes to Michigan that he wants to stay at Mother and The Old Man’s with you. It is much the same as what he said while he was up there. He told me that he tried to speak with you about it and that you wouldn’t listen to him so he thinks “he needs help from an adult.”

I ask you to hear him out and follow his lead. This is not about you. This is not about The Auteur. This is about The Kid not being emotionally it psychologically prepared to deal with this right now and you respecting his feelings. The way you handle this can help him accept The Auteur’s role in his life or reject it. Similarly, it will do the same for his feelings for you.

Please speak with him and more importantly listen to him

I was tempted to ignore it altogether; not even dignify it with a response.  Fast forward to last night:  The Kid and I are talking on the phone when he tells me that Jabba wants to talk to me.  He apparently misunderstood her as she just wanted to know if I got the e-mail.  I confirmed for The Kid – and Jabba – that I did.

Obviously, this is a topic that Jabba and I needed, and need, to discuss.  At the behest of The Auteur, I decided to give Jabba a call Thursday night so we could stop tip-toeing through this. As I mentioned in an earlier entry HERE, I don’t believe that The Kid truly feels the way that Jabba claims he does.  As the old saying goes:  I haven’t seen it myself; therefore I don’t believe it.

The Hutt reached an absolute new low last night:  She told me that The Kid has been seeing a child psychologist and said that he wanted to kill himself.  Upon hearing this,  I immediately asked for the name and number for this child psychiatrist.  She refused to give it to me, stating that she is reluctant to take that “safe place” away from The Kid.  Needless to say, I am now exploring my legal rights on this matter.

What was most striking to me was that this alleged bombshell she dropped did not change the course of our discussion.  She did not set aside any animosity she has for me in an attempt to get to the heart of this matter.  No; instead she reverted to her typical name call and cursing at me.  So I took a page out of her book:  after warning her several times to stop the name-calling, I told her that I would continue this conversation when she was ready to talk like an adult.  I told her “have a good night”  and I hung up on her.

Of course, if my son is feeling like this, then I will do everything in my power to help him.  But the fact of the matter is that it is highly unusual for a six-year-old to even have suicidal thoughts.  Furthermore, there is absolutely no indication in any other aspect of his life that he is anything other than a happy little boy.  I have spoken with his school teacher and she has said repeatedly that he is a both happy and precocious.  In fact, when she e-mailed The Kid’s report card, she even said he talked about how much fun he had with me over Christmas break.  At the time, the comment made me feel really good.  Little did I realize just how important  that remark would become in just a few short weeks.

coming to terms

The last 72 or so hours have been tumultuous.  I’ve been racking my brain over this divorce settlement – trying to sort out the terms I can live with; the terms that infuriate me to the point that I have no choice but to demand more from; the terms that bother me on principle; and the terms that I have to simply accept for the sake of both my immediate and long-term happiness.

To make matters worse, Jabba is now saying she wants the kid back on December 28; essentially giving her the entire second week of his winter break.  This despite her saying she wanted me to have him for the majority of his break.  If she wanted to simply switch weeks, I could live with that.  I don’t understand the need for her to phrase it as if she’s giving me Christmas as some major self-sacrifice. By this time next year, I am fully confident that the divorce will firmly be in place. Once it is, I’ll proceed strictly by the terms of the final order.  No more favors.  No more flip-flopping weeks (I say that now).

I talked to LeRoy about the final divorce order last night and he really helped put things into perspective.  He reminded me that I’ve got to think in terms of the overall bigger picture.  Trying to fight some of these smaller issues on principle could start opening up other proverbial cans of worms that I don’t want to get into – largest among them back child support.  Virtually everyone agrees that I got a good deal with child support – and I don’t want to rock the boat, so to speak.  Basically, I have to pick and choose not only my battles, but my acceptable losses as well.

Last but not least, I cannot thank The Auteur enough for all of her love and support through this process.  If there’s any one trait of hers I’m trying to pick up, it is her ability to compartmentalize things (for the lack of a better word) She has an ability to not let the random bad things that happen sabotage and otherwise good day.  I wish I was more like her in that regard.  Needless to say, I am still a “work in progress” in that area, but I am trying.   Like all couples, we disagree and fight at times, but we always have each others backs.  We love each other and are definitely in this together for the long haul.

Earlier in the evening I talked with my Mom about the whole Christmas break switcheroo.  She reminded me at The Kid’s age, Christmas is THE important holiday and it really is important to have it with him and that I need to – again – think of the bigger picture.

I wasn’t really happy at the end of the conversation with Mom.  I was feeling quite defeated actually. At that point, one would think that the talk I had with LeRoy would only make me feel even worse; but a strange sense of calm came over me.  I think I have finally reached the point that this divorce ruling is something I can live with.  I’m not sure how it happened, or when; but I’ve think I’ve truly come to terms with this whole thing.

compromisedemotivator

…and into the fire?

natural-gas-flameThis is the second part of a two-part entry.  When I originally wrote part one, I had a decidedly different article in mind for part two.  Given today’s events, it seemed entirely appropriate to re-visit this entry.  Click HERE to read part one.

The Auteur and I were up late last night and in turn, slept in late today.  When i first checked my e-mail today I saw an e-mail from my attorney’s office.  The attachments on said e-mail included the final settlement to my divorce proceedings.

Maybe I should provide a little back-story before I go on my rant here:

One of the biggest hang-ups during these settlement negotiations – at least on my side thus far – has been a “personal loan” that Jabba had included and insisted that I pay back to her.  Now, admittedly, near the end of our marriage, there were a few bills that i asked her for assistance in paying.  These were utility payments – not credit cards or other personal bills that I had; household bills that we, as a married couple, were both getting use of.

Fast forward to Summer 2013 as we were inching toward an eventual court date.  Greenie asks me about this “personal loan”.  I explain to him that the amount Jabba and I agreed to was $583.00.  Again, I wasn’t crazy about it, but I was willing to cut my losses to move things along.  Greenie seemed surprised at the amount.  He told me that Jabba’s lawyer told her in was approximately $2000.00 – which, coincidentally, sounds to me like the amount of Jabba’s legal fees.  At this point, Greenie assured me that he would insist on paperwork to back up Jabba’s claim.

September 2013:  Our day in court.  I had planned on visiting and taking The Kid to Myrtle Beach when I received a summons to appear in court just before said visit.  The day I arrive in South Carolina, I get a call from Greenie claiming that he and Jabba’s lawyer have reached a settlement and our court appearance will now be for a final hearing.  He gives me a rough summary of the settlement over the phone.  I ask to see a copy of the settlement before going into court.  He gives me a story about how it hasn’t been written up yet, but it will be drawn up by Jabba’s lawyer.

We go into court, and I , essentially, lie under oath – telling the judge that I have read and agree to the terms of the settlement even though I have not seen the final agreement.  The judge declares the divorce to be official.  It is, literally, all over except for the paperwork.

Almost immediately upon leaving court, I begin pestering Greenie about seeing the final agreement.  He tells me that he doesn’t have it – as Jabba’s lawyer has to write up the actual language of it.

October 2013:  When I once again ask Greenie for the final agreement, he explains to me that it was sent on to the judge; but not to worry because we’ll have 10 days to review it once it comes back from him.

December 2, 2013:  I receive an a-mailed copy of the Final Order. It makes no mention of the few concessions I have asked for from Team Jabba.  Neither Greenie nor his paralegals will return my phone calls.

I am absolutely beside myself.  Jabba is about to get everything she wanted – and then some.  I’m about to get hosed.  I walked away with and am now getting nothing.  I’m not sure if I even have a leg to stand on, but I am considering filing a grievance with the state bar association for how ineffectively he has handled my divorce since day one.

I’ll save my rant on Christmas visitation for another post.

A divorce update and some bitching

If you are married, live in the North (and I’m referring to the same North that people think of when they think of the Civil War) and are thinking about moving down South, my advice to you is:  DON’T.

Jabba and I were married in 2000 here in Michigan.  We moved down South in 2004.   We separated in 2012; and since we were South Carolina residents for 8 years, we had to file for our divorce in South Carolina.

There is no such thing as a “no fault divorce” in South Carolina – at least not in the same sense that there is in Michigan.  I’ve heard of some people in Michigan having divorces go from start to finish in as little as 6 months.  Unless it’s something severe – substance abuse, physical abuse, criminal activity – it takes a minimum of one year to get a divorce in the Palmetto State.

And I get it.  I really do.  The state really wants people to try and save their marriages and I respect that – as long as there is even an chance of saving said marriage.  As my lawyer, Greenie, pointed out to me “If there is a Bible belt in this country, South Carolina is the buckle of that belt”.

I bring all of this up now because it has been nearly 18 months since Jabba and I separated and I have absolutely no proof that we’re any closer our divorce being finalized that we were the day I moved out.  According to Greenie, the judge has our papers and we’re all just waiting for him to sign off on them, which should just be a formality.  The only reason I even believe that is because I actually saw the judge when I appeared in court and he essentially rubber-stamped everything there.

It’s not as if Jabba and I are fighting over some multi-million dollar estate, or we’re locked in some bitter custody dispute over The Kid.  In the grand scheme of things, we’ve agreed on almost everything – although some of my previous blog entries may seem to suggest otherwise.

I just want this thing to be done by the end of the year.  That would be a great Christmas present and a great way to end 2013.

Out of the frying pan…

brain-2

This is your brain on divorce

This is the first of rather unusual two-part entry…

With some prodding from my mom, I called Jabba today to inform her that I won’t be picking up The Kid for Thanksgiving.  I have been avoiding this conversation and I definitely didn’t want to do it this weekend, as I knew I’d be home alone with The Auteur shooting a movie this weekend.    It went surprisingly well; as it was both the longest and most civilized conversation we have had since before I left South Carolina.

Now bear in mind that I’m taking all of the information that follows with a grain of salt, as I am absolutely convinced that Jabba is a sociopath.

  • I told her about Thanksgiving, expecting her to go bat-shit crazy. Not only was she okay with it, but she even suggested that The Kid spends his entire Christmas break with me.  She said that it was important in that Christmas is the only time The Kid gets to see my extended family.  This was an interesting curve ball.
  • She still claims that her lawyer has sent the divorce papers on to my lawyer, and that he is apparently holding up the entire process.  This may or may not be true.  I have expressed some frustrations with the speed at which Greenie has handled things thus far.  My question remains:  what would he possibly have to gain from dragging things out?
  • Furthermore, Jabba claims that her lawyer has been in contact with the judge in regards to our divorce proceedings – and yet,  there has been no movement.
  • Jabba claims that the insurance company stopped coverage on me effective July 1, 2013 (which they did) but that she is still seeing the deductions on her paycheck – even though i’m not longer covered, mind you – because we are not yet divorced.
  • She knows about The Auteur and 1B,
  • She speculated, admittedly,  that The Kid feels that I love The Auteur and 1B more than him and I have “replaced him” with them. He had definitely, in the past at least, felt this way in the past as he and I have had discussions about it.
  • She seemed almost apologetic about “playing hardball” with me, i.e: using visitation with The Kid as a negotiating tactic.  I warned her that should she continue to do that, I will go through the lawyers to stop it.
  • I told her that if I find out she’s bullshitting me about any of this, I will be upset.
  • I informed her that she needs her to inform me when she and The Kid  leave South Carolina and that I would put that into our settlement should she fail to cooperate with me.

All in all it was an intense, yet civil, conversation.  Could this be the start of the next step in my relationship with Jabba?  I’m very skeptical about it ; but the conversation was a pleasant surprise nonetheless.  I find myself emotionally drained in the aftermath of it.  A LOT of things were said by both of us.  Things that we’ve both needed to get off of our chests for a while.

I don’t want to be hostile with her.  I really don’t.  The two of us have to find a way get along  well enough to co-parent The Kid.  That’s all I want out of all of this.  We may have finally taken a big step toward that finally happening.

endgame

Checkmate.

Checkmate.

I am officially a single man, effective today – at least by a decree from a Berkeley County Judge. It is literally all over except for the paperwork. My fourteen month odyssey is over, but not without a few last minute Jabba hijinks.

I got to court at 1:30 for my 2 PM appearance. As I walked into the courthouse, I saw Jabba pull up, which caught my attention, since I was curious if she would even be in court today.

I got there before Greenie (my lawyer) did.  Jabba’s lawyer saw me sign in an introduced himself to me.  I found it odd that he mispronounced my last name, especially since it is also Jabba’s last name. At best, he made himself look ignorant;  at worst he made it appear as if he didn’t know his client well enough to learn how to pronounce her last name.

The court appearance was originally set up as a hear for 13 motions that Jabba and her lawyer were filing.  however when we got there, both lawyers agreed that they wanted to change this hearing to a “final hearing”. The entire procedure took, maybe, 15 minutes since our lawyers had hammered out an agreement yesterday.

I did have to interrupt briefly to ask my lawyer about the weekend visitations. Jabba’s side agreed. The judge said he would need a signed affidavit stating that I was no longer living in South Carolina before writing up the final papers. Otherwise, it is done.

My lawyer and I spoke for a few minutes on the way back to our cars. As we finished, Jabba approached me and asked if I wanted to go to Ben’s swim practice. She then asked if I would want to take him to dinner. I agreed to both and asked about having him for the weekend. She asked me if I had the affidavit yet. I explained that I just heard about it. She told me in her -roundabout Jabba manner that I could not take him without the signed affidavit.

My response was, “Let’s see what my lawyer says about that.” She left, as I called my lawyer from the parking lot of the courthouse. after taking part in an intense phone tag session, Greenie’s (my code name for my lawyer)  paralegals got in touch with Jabba’s attorney, who explained to Greenie’s paralegals he and his client (Jabba) had “a small communication error” regarding this weekend and that I would be able to have The Boy for the weekend.

denouement

Could it be that this fourteen month odyssey is finally coming to an end?

I am currently blogging from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where I will be appearing in court tomorrow.  Last week, I was informed by my attorney that court appearance I was supposed to have back in June was rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  Apparently Jabba and her attorney got their shit together and submitted files their motion (motions?) with the court, so I made plans to come down for the court date.

after landing in Myrtle Beach and getting my rental car, I got a call from my attorney.  He explained to me that he & Jabba’s attorney have reached a settlement. He didn’t go into too much detail; but what he did described sounded pretty good.  I’m going to try to read the settlement before we go into court tomorrow.

In equally good news, The Auteur signed her divorce papers on Monday.  According to her attorney, she should have her final papers in about 60 days.

Her and I have both been living with these divorces hanging over our heads for so long now that I almost feel like I’m used to them (the divorces) just being a lingering thing.  It’s not unlike when Rob says to Mikey in Swingers that “you’ve lived with it for so long, you almost miss the pain”.    Howerer after talking to my lawyer, I quickly found myself adjusting to the idea of “No More Jabba”.

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