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Divorce and Custody

Francesca's picture

My SO needs a divorce. We have consulted with several attorneys and he has been to mediation with BM. BM has attempted suicide and extreme PAS tactics. BM crys during mediation and refuses to cooperate or work on custody arrangement. She wants FDH to never see his children again. She basically performs war tactics. Attorneys want huge retainers and estimate over 10K for custody battle although he has good chance of winning due to suicide attempts. After going to all these meetings, reading books and consulting with the mediator, I'm becoming inclined to have him file himself.
Has anyone done that or have any information on it? The forms are not the hard part, I can do that. What happens when you get to court and you want her psychological evaluations subpoenaed? Can that be done if you are representing yourself? She does not have money for an attorney, either, as she does not work. The mediator suggested filing and putting it on inactive status to force her into cooperation in mediation. She said that once she goes to respond she will see what she is facing. Mediation is the cheaper alternative for all involved, and easier on the children. A filing will also tell us where her mental state is, if she is still suicidal, or not. She is using this "breakdown" state to avoid talking about the divorce. Everytime SO mentions it to her she crys, shakes, breaks things and generally deflects away from divorce. There is a good chance she will refuse to respond, would he automatically get a default judgement? Does anyone have any answers? Illinois

WickednNasty's picture

Frankly my husband's situation wasn't as bad, but the Illinois court system is so Mother based it's incredible.

All they really seem to care about making money. They'll appoint a Child Rep, in addition to mediator.......all which they're going to have to pay for. Then they'll possibly order a pych evaluation, which also costs tons. It's such a joke it's unreal.

What County is he in?

Francesca's picture

Cook. And I'm tired. The BM lies, is violent and aggressive, trys to keep the kids from him and all kinds of BS. But, legally, the issue is custody. One child is 14 and he wants to stay with his mother, although I don't think that is best for him. There is a four year old that he wants residential custody of. The mother is so destructive she really should not have either of them full time. She needs psychological help. In any event, the attorneys say he has a good chance due to the reports but get your wallet out. Sometimes he's like, just let her have them and let's get this over with. I'll pay support. I'm the one that stops him. I feel the kids are not treated well. They've also told us to get a bigger place. SO is on unemployment. Can't afford $5000.00 retainer. I'm afraid that she'll make up tons of lies, although we've been documenting everything down to the 30 phone calls made each week with no return trying to pick up kids. I'm about ready to just file but don't know if that's a good idea.

TheOtherMom's picture

If your FDH does this himself, it is very risky. Not to sound like a butthead or advocate of lawyers but one of the things a judge might see is that FDH is doing it himself and can't AFFORD a lawyer so how is he supposed to afford children?

Most lawyers make you pay an initial retainer (our was $3k) but all the money was used over the duration of the case. Also, we spent an additional $3k over a period of 6 months for the other things.

I suggest when he goes for his FREE consultation, the lawyer or lawyer's assistant should address payment plans, fees, etc up front. Any reputable lawyer would.

When I worked as a paralegal about 13 years ago, retainer fees were averaging $750 for non-custody divorces and $1500 for custody.

ANnd one more word of advice, depending on the size of the town you are in, much of the legal system is dependent on reputation. Your lawyers' rep makes a difference so go to the Better Business Bureau for your city and do some research.

songchef's picture

Seems you found your twin sister! Our story is very similar to yours. We are also in Cook County Ill courts. ( I agree, its all about money with them!)
I dont see why he couldnt submit an order to show cause /change of visitation. You can file that pro bono. My SO does have a lawyer. They had asked the court for mediation. FINALLY after months of his X stalling the whole process and arguing endlessly about it, they now have a mediator and a date of this Wednesday.
I believe in your case, that if he were to file an OSC with a bullet point list of changes and concerns, the court might possibly order Mediation for the two of them. From there it might continue on to a Psych evaluation for then and maybe even the kids. No matter what the court would order, At least it will get it in the record that he is concerned about the kids. The courts should be focused on whats best for the kids and he has significant concerns regarding their safety. I saved a bunch of sites with great info if you want to read up more on the process. Message me if you would like me to forward those to you.

Good Luck! It is a very looooong and drawn out process (we have been at it for 3 years now!) :0