I’m in a Real Bad Place Right Now

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Mara
Fuming
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:03 pm

I’m in a Real Bad Place Right Now

Post by Mara » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:18 pm

Summary: I was expecting to be approved for legal aid for my divorce, but now, a week before the deadline to appear before the court, I got a letter than my application was denied. And I don’t know what to do now.



I went through some bad depression around the holidays, but felt I’ve been doing better the last couple months. I have exactly one week to respond to the court related to the divorce my husband filed. After I was served the papers, I spent hours upon hours on the phone with different organizations to find representation. I filed out an application for legal aid and my last communication over the phone was very positive. The woman said my case looks straightforward and I should have no trouble obtaining a lawyer before the deadline to respond. I’ve been getting anxious the last few days waiting to hear if they approved me (which I expected them to do).

I got the legal aid response letter in the mail just now and it says they denied me because 1) spouse’s income MAY be above guidelines. 2) my assets MAY be above guidelines; I did not submit documentation of one of my assets.

It says I can appeal, but no matter what, I currently have no representation for this initial court response. This just hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t know what to do. It’s scary and overwhelming. Life is so unfair and difficult and painful. I don’t understand why my spouse’s income should have any bearing on my financial need since I have absolutely no idea anything about his finances and there is absolutely no way for me to compel him to give me anything to support me. Plus he quit his job in November so I don’t think he has any income.

The second part is equally upsetting. My assets are meager, but I am a frugal person. When what I have is gone, it’s gone. I haven’t held a job in ten years and I have three young children. It will not be easy to obtain employment. I have a little bit in checking, some bonds I got as a child, my car, and my IRA (which at less than $40k is much less than I should have at this point). No other assets. I feel like I am being punished for being fiscally responsible. I could be like the people (such as estranged husband) who impulsively buy whatever they want and get into debt. But instead, I make tough decisions, sacrifices, and just go without. I literally own one pair of jeans and maybe five shirts. My shoes have holes in them. I don’t own any winter boots after estranged husband threw out my $200 boots. My kids have about ten outfits each. We don’t go out to eat, we don’t go to the movies, we get our clothes from the thrift store.

I was SO meticulous while filing out the application. I even called them with a long list of questions to make sure I did everything perfectly. No where in the application did it ask for proof of “other assets” (the bonds) aside from listing what they were and what the value was. I obviously would have added that if I thought it was necessary.

So I am going to call them tomorrow. See what information I need to give them to appeal the application decision. But I don’t know what to do about the initial court response. I’ve heard I can do it pro se, but I know absolutely nothing about the legal system. The court is two hours away (also where the self help place is). I don’t know what the self help consists of, just a place to pick up the forms you need to fill out for stuff? I don’t even know what “respond or otherwise appear before the court” means. Is there a form I need to fill out?! I fee so lost and so in over my head. And I don’t know where to go for help or support.

Melody
Nuclear
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Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:28 pm

Re: I’m in a Real Bad Place Right Now

Post by Melody » Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:25 am

Hi Mara. I know this is nauseating but DON'T panic! Its not as bad as it seems, really. Although I must warn you that you are in for a long ride - especially if your court system is anything like the one I dealt with. Although every state is different.

For the first hearing, you will go to court. And DO show up. (I know its a pain - and check if they have child care - they may). The judge will know you don't have representation (assuming you don't by that point). You'll explain that they denied your initial application. The matter will be adjorned for you to keep trying to find legal aid OR the court will help you by appointing you an attorney. And then it will be two months or more until the next court date.

Your keeping meticulous records, so you're in good shape. This is where it might be to your advantage that your soon to be ex filed first. The judge may order your soon to be ex to supply documentation. The judge might even order child support in the interm.

Things will get easier. This is a speedbump, and not as bad as you might think. (((Hugs!!)))

Mara
Fuming
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:03 pm

Re: I’m in a Real Bad Place Right Now

Post by Mara » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:01 pm

Thank you Melody. After I got that letter on the 1st, I stayed up late (can never accomplish anything unless the kids are asleep) to get the documentation to appeal the legal aid decision. Put it in the mail Tuesday and felt pretty good. Talked to lawyer acquaintance who told me I needed to file appearance but not answer before the 30 day deadline. That was a relief. Took 5 hour round trip to the pro se desk at the courthouse yesterday (5 hours to only get 15 minutes with the lawyer). The lawyer was helpful, but I left with more questions than I came in with. She told me I DID have to file the answer by the 30 days, so she helped me write it. But I’ve talked to so many people to try and get information, and I feel so confused. I feel like everyone tells me different contradictory stuff. The lawyer mentioned that I need to get something notarized and that I need to do a verification of something. But that was when my 15 minutes were up so I wasn’t able to get clarification of what she was talking about. I’ve been staying up until 3 AM (waking between 6-7 AM) to work on this legal stuff. None of the information online says anything about notarizing or verification. I have even called the circuit court clerk quite a few times, but they haven’t been much help...

I was working on a form this afternoon and had the tv babysitting my kids. My two year old hit the tv and now it is broke!!!! I’m so upset that this divorce stuff is so stressful and overwhelming and time consuming and also that I am neglecting my kids to focus on it. And now this 4K tv my parents got two months ago is BROKE!!! You power it on and it is just a black screen with a bright spiderweb crack on the inside.

WatchingMyBack
Nuclear
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Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:14 pm
Location: New York State

Re: I’m in a Real Bad Place Right Now

Post by WatchingMyBack » Wed May 22, 2019 11:02 am

Mara - I can't speak to the legal issues (but do find out what needs to be notarized and get that done. There are often Notaries at the local UPS or at your bank branch. Shouldn't cost you more than $2 - $5; banks usually do it for free).

As for the TV, if it is new, it may be under a purchase warranty if your parents used a credit card to buy it. American Express and some Visa & MC cards have a 90 day "if something happens, no matter what, we'll replace it" policy. This happened to brand new tires that my husband bought, and then hit a sharp piece of metal in the road. Visa replaced the tire and paid the labor costs, too.

A former employee's daughter had her brand new camera stolen while on vacation. I told her to check with the credit card company, and sure enough, they had the buyer protection and replaced it at no cost.

It's worth having your parents check on that. Doesn't matter that your toddler broke it.
“Make no judgments where you have no compassion.”

Mara
Fuming
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:03 pm

Re: I’m in a Real Bad Place Right Now

Post by Mara » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:07 pm

Watchingmyback - I wish I would have checked this response sooner! I don’t j is if the credit card had buyer protection, but the 90 days may be up by now anyway... and I don’t know what my parents did with the broke tv, they may have thrown it out...

I will have to check and definitely keep your tip in mind for future reference!!!

PS - I checked my credit card and it does offer purchase protection so that is good to know!!!

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