Format for answering a complaint

If he has one and you don’t, you’re at a disadvantage. An attorney might end up costing you $3000. The results from not having one might end up costing you many, many thousands more. If there are no children or real estate involved, consider a simple divorce; that you might be able to do yourself. If he’s complicated matters, then get professional help at once and do NOT answer the complaint until you do. Any correspondence will be used against you.

Yes, there is a child involved. I am in New Jersey as a direct result of a exparte protective order. My 7-year old daughter and I fled up here to be away from him and his emotional abuse, physical threats, drug and alcohol abuse. He has filed an initial complaint for custody. I CANNOT afford an attorney. I HAVE NO MONEY. Don’t understand why the LAW has to make everything so danged complicated. What really aggravates me is that sometimes people just don’t understand that you cannot afford and attorney and are therefore forced to represent yourself.

I have hit yet another snag. I called his attorney to let him know that I am handling this case pro se, and the attorney is refusing to speak to me because I am also the defendant. Now, I am extremely angry. This man, my husband, and I use both terms extremely loosely, filed for full custody of our daughter. He has a past of violence with me. He has a recent past of giving his 16 year old son the option of living on the street or with his cousin. He abuses alcohol (a fifth a day) which I and my daughter and his son were witness to. He is also or was up to the point of my ex parte order using marijuana. I have no money and I do stress that point to fight this thing with an attorney and must go it alone. The way that our law and the court systems work is ridiculous and totally unfair. I have been told that I will be eaten alive by his attorney because I don’t have one and cannot afford one. This man has managed to ruin and continues to ruin my life. I am totally at my wits end. I have offered him alternating holidays with him providing transportation for that. I have offered him 7 out of the 11 weeks of her summer vacation where I will split the transportation. My sister has offered for him to come up here any weekend he wishes to visit on weekends at her house. He has thus far refused the offer. He wants the entire summer for visitation. My daughter, who is only 7, doesn’t want to spend the whole summer with her father. She has witnessed his drinking and passing out. Her father claims that I am feeding junk into her head. I am the one reminding her that it is her father and that he loves her and wants to see her. She also wants to go to court and wants to talk to the judge. I just want to go stand on top of a mountain and scream.

Tricia, it’s true…his attorney cannot speak with you because he is working for him and not you. I doubt you would want your attorney, if you had one, talking to him, right? I don’t know what to tell you if you say you can’t afford an attorney…you have so much to lose without one. If this man’s as alcohol crazed as you are saying he is then I’d be begging, borrowing, or stealing me some $$ for an attorney so that he couldn’t get my child.

Let me be clear, I DO understand that some people can’t afford an attorney. And I DO understand your frustration. I didn’t write the law and I didn’t get you two involved with each other. But now you are faced, whether you like it or not, with fighting this jerk with everything you have. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a monetary war. Think tactically. What is his achilles heel? Alcohol. Can you afford a few hundred bucks to have a PI watch him and take some pictures of him abusing alcohol around your children? If so you might have a pretty cheap bargaining chip. You know this guy better than anyone. If he has an order against him, is he on probation for anything as well? Find something truly damaging against him and use it. If you’re certain he abuses alcohol, try to remember when he starts in–noon? Afternoon? Call the sherriff in his county and say that you are deathly afraid he will hit your children because he is an alcoholic. They are legally bound to go by the house and see for themselves. If he is indeed intoxicated, you involve social services. If you can get enough damaging evidence against him before you two start working on paperwork…there might not be so much paperwork…

It may be helpful for you to seek assistance from a community mediation center in the county in which the action is filed. There are also organizations who will work with domestic violence victims pro bono. Check your phone book, our web site or just email me with the county and I will look for resources and get you the contact information.

Deborah M. Throm
Rosen Law Firm
1829 E. Franklin Street, Bldg. 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.265.0017 direct
919.321.0780 main voice

4101 Lake Boone Trail
Suite 500
Raleigh, NC 27607
919.256.1544 direct
919.787.6668 main voice

301 McCullough Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte, NC 28262
704.644.2531 ext. 100

I received a complaint from husband. He is in North Carolina and I am in New Jersey. Can’t afford an attorney. What is the format for answering the complaint? Do I title it Answer? Can I just send my answer to his attorney? How do I do this myself?