Unhappy with attorney - what's my recourse?


#1

Dear winbenkat:

Greetings. First, I am sorry to hear about the situation between you and your attorney. I also wanted to warn you that if you file for divorce and obtain a divorce judgement and have not resolved the issues of alimony and equitable distribution through a separation agreement or court order, then you lose the right to file for alimony and/or equitable distribution when the divorce is entered.

Now, I suggest that you have a long talk with this attorney or find another one that you can trust. If I were you, I would pick the last option. Also, you can file for your own divorce here in NC and the forms our on our website. Your husband can be served by either Sheriff in the county he resides or by certified mail, regardless of which state he lives in. Best of luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney at Law
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
NCDivorce.com
919-787-6668

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


#2

Janet,

Thank you for your response. My next question is: I just need to have a separation agreement that is signed by both me and my spouse - it doesn’t have to be filed in court, does it? If it just has to be signed, it just needs to be dated prior to the filing date of the divorce, correct? Also, after reading things at your website, it was my understanding that if the defendant lived out of the county where the plantiff lives, the complaint must be served by the Sheriff. Is this not a correct understanding?


#3

Dear Winbenkat:

Greetings. You need a separation agreement which is properly executed - signed by both parties in front of a notary. The separation agreement needs to be executed (not just dated) prior to the date of divorce. The complaint for divorce can be served by Sheriff or certified mail. Best of luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney at Law
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
NCDivorce.com
919-787-6668

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


#4

After getting a recommendation for a local attorney, I went to see him in July, 2003 to draft a separation agreement. He told me I could pay $175/hr or a flat fee of $1,750 and that the divorce would cost an additional $200. I took the flat fee option. It took my attorney four months to have a complete version - he told me the draft would be done in a week - at six weeks I still didn’t have it. Once I contacted him, he said it was because I hadn’t paid anything (I paid a 50% deposit at my initial meeting with him). Then he said it was because there questions he need answered (turns out they were questions I answered at our initial meeting). Once I received it, it contained basic errors, such as the state my ex-husband-to-be lives in. In any case, it was finished, but never signed by my husband. At no point did my attorney’s office ever contact me to find out what happened to it. Now that the one year waiting period is almost over and it’s time to file, my attorney says that he will require an additional $875.00 to amend/alter the separation agreement (there are minor revisions such as my husband has a new address, he’s paying for the health insurance now, and I want child support calculated based on the North Carolina guidelines), $350.00 for the divorce, and $50 for service of the divorce papers to my husband. I only received this invoice and divorce complaint after emailing and calling numerous times in the last month (which is how I was treated throughout the process of producing the separation agreement).

After this long winded dissertation, what I want to know is: is this standard? Should I pay $350 for the divorce as well as $875.00 to make minimal changes to the existing separation agreement? (he states it will take 5 hours to make the changes I’ve requested) Also, since my husband lives in another state, does he need to be served via a Sheriff or can it be done via certified mail, if he doesn’t plan to refuse service?

Since I am so unhappy with the quality of service from my attorney (or should I say lack thereof), should I just write off the money I’ve already paid and go to another attorney? If I stick with him, do I have any recourse as far as the fees he is now requiring me to pay? Keeping in mind, the filing date is June 2, 2004.

Thank you for any advice you can give me.