The Mediation Deal: My Letter to My Lawyers
I used to feel such empathy and sympathy for my original family lawyer. She is doing the best she can, I thought. My ex is such a horrible, abusive person who is taking advantage of the system and Margaret (not her name) has to do things this way, she has no choice.
Meanwhile, my bill is rising higher and higher, the clock is ticking, not very much is getting accomplished and I can’t afford to pay any longer. I kept asking Margaret why she kept taking him to court if he doesn’t follow court orders. She kept telling me the same refrain, that she wanted to go after court costs at trial so this is the way to do it. She had to prove that he was non-complainant and he felt that he was above the law.
But, she cancelled trial, three times and never took him to court. So, all the court costs are now mine and I still can’t afford to pay.
That lawyer that I had such sympathy and empathy for who my ex called terrible names?
She has treated me not so well herself throughout this legal process. She didn’t listen to me, she knew she had power over me because of my lack of money and then she fired me once, changed her mind and then fired me again, this time for good. As I learned about my ex and his personality, I also learned about Margaret and her bosses’ too.
I will be writing about different parts of my family law legal journey in different stories. These past three and half years have not been good experiences. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. I know from my new lawyer that things happened that shouldn’t have. For instance, I should have received a bill every month but I didn’t. I can’t tell you when I last received one.
I also know that when dealing with someone like my ex, my case should not have been dealt with the way that it was. My new lawyer, Emily (not her name) told me that I would never get a fair deal, you get the best deal you can as quickly as you can and get out. Emily said I have been tortured for the last three plus years and that is how I feel, tortured. I usually cry when I think about what has happened.
I am currently collecting emails I have sent to Margaret, her responses and her bosses as well because it looks like I will have to deal with them soon. They emailed Emily 48 hours after I sold my home, wanting money like vultures. They didn’t even let the ink dry on the contract, even though they left me on the edge of bankruptcy due to their handling of my case.
I have copied an email I sent them below after my ex and I had our second mediation. I ended up signing the deal, to this day I regret it. I suspect it will ultimately be one of my biggest regrets of my life. I didn’t have the strength or courage to stand up to three adults and say no. I wanted the trial to go forward the next day but they convinced me that I wouldn’t get what I wanted and it was better to wait a year. The owner of the firm told me I would get a free review, worth at least $50,000 in legal fees. I never received that free review, instead they fired me as a client and now they want money.
I hope I have it in me now to stand up to them and say no you are not leaving a single mom of two destitute because you didn’t know how to represent her against a narcissist. They should have told me three and a half years ago that they didn’t know what they were doing. I wouldn’t have lost my house and I wouldn’t be on the verge of bankruptcy.
I tried to stand up and be my own advocate in December of 2019 but they didn’t listen and I wasn’t strong enough, here is what I wrote:
I still have hesitations about signing the deal that was made.
I honestly feel despite the fact that the two of you thinking that it is the best that I can get, no one listened to me and what I wanted in that room.
Anytime I voiced my opinion, I was shot down or Mr. L said that he wasn’t going to approach X about it or that I had to forget it. For example, the retro support, the amount owing, the special expenses, etc.
The children and I were not living above our means as Mr. L suggested. Me not going to the dentist for two years and taking off my glasses to read is not living above my means. The only holiday we took is S Island. We used to go on overseas holidays. I have already been living a very frugal lifestyle.
Anything X wanted, he got. I don’t understand how my support went from $7000 to $2500 and everyone except me went along with it.
Maybe he had a bad year in 2019 but he will start fishing again and earning an income in March 2020. He will be getting his advance herring payment in February 2020. We all know that in May, he will earn at least $100,000 in cash in one month.
Why couldn’t the amount be upped in May? Why 12 months of so little when we know he can afford more by May?
C wondered if the wording should be more clear about it being a full review in 12 months. She felt that X or a court could question it if it wasn’t stated more clearly or didn’t actually state de novo.
What if X says that I got along fine on $2500 so why should he bother paying more? How do we know we can prove it by then? What if we can’t and then I am stuck at this low level forever?
If we can prove he should pay more now, why am I suffering for a year?
I don’t feel I was heard at a mediation. I feel like I was treated like a child surrounded by adults who told her that this is the way it is and “you get what you get and don’t get upset”.
X was the bully in the other room deciding the punishment. The mediation was all about keeping him in the room, not wanting him to leave and what does he want, what is he willing to say yes to. He had all the power. I had zero.
I would feel better about the situation if the support for the 12 months was fair, the $2500 is a slap in the face.
You are asking me to again trust someone who can’t be trusted, have faith with someone who has shown no good faith and hope that in twelve months that somehow the results will be different than right now.
I have no reason to believe that any of this will happen.
I am tempted to stop the trial but also not sign this deal as it is completely unreasonable that I use all of my available funds so the three of us just survive while he lives exactly the same.
I think it is unfair that two lawyers, a mediator and X think it is ok to ask that of a fourty seven year old woman and two children.
The bully got exactly what he wanted, the nice person got nothing that she wanted and this is the justice system.
ps. I want it to be made very clear that once I tell the children in January, we are moving out asap.
I will NOT be paying rent and the mortgage. X needs to make arrangements for the mortgage to be paid.
No, I will not be paid after the house is sold as I am getting the net proceeds of the house sale anyways.
It is not fair for the kids to watch their house be sold that they have lived in for nine years and it is not fair for me to be financially on the hook for two places when I am being paid a pittance.
It is bad enough to have to swallow the lie that X is broke and for me to be sent in the poor house, I am not going to watch my life crumble before my eyes.
It could take a year for the house to sell and I should not be made financially responsible for this.
As any of you that follow me knows, this letter didn’t work. I received an email reply that they felt the deal was the best I could get and if I didn’t agree I could get a second opinion. They knew I didn’t have the money for that. A day or two after the email, Margaret and her boss called me, telling me to sign it or find myself a new lawyer as it was the best they could do for me. I ended up signing it because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t have the money for a new lawyer and I didn’t have anyone to ask for help.
The lawyers told me I was going to have to live tightly. But, I had to cash in all of my retirement savings, couldn’t pay my mortgage after a while and the place went into foreclsoure. We have also been without a washing machine for over five months. That isn’t living tightly, that’s not being able to survive.
I will write more about my family law journey and financial abuse again.