Are you dealing with a bully attorney? Far too often, unrepresented clients see themselves being bullied by their spouse’s attorney. This may be due to the attorney’s overbearing personality or possibly your lack of confidence.
Regardless of the reason, you should never let another attorney take advantage of you. You are entitled to the same legal rights as your spouse, represented or not. If you are representing yourself, or managing a Do-It-Yourself Divorce, it’s important to have a game plan to deal with a bully attorney.
Often, a simple, but comprehensive consultation with a divorce attorney can keep you on the right track, even if you are taking care of court appearances and paperwork yourself.
The Controlling Bully
One type of bullying that your spouse’s attorney may use is having their client control all of the financial assets. For example, imagine your spouse was the primary breadwinner throughout the marriage. He or she also controlled all of the bank accounts, stock accounts, and retirement accounts. You were basically given an allowance every month, but had no access to the community assets. Now that you are beginning the divorce, you have absolutely no funds to support yourself, and your spouse refuses to provide you with any funds. What can you do?
One possible action you can take is immediately filing for temporary orders. You can either ask for temporary spousal maintenance or a quick division of some community property. Most likely you will be able to walk away with a temporary order that provides you with at least some financial support until a final hearing or agreement is made.
The Paperwork Bully
Another type of bullying that may occur if you are unrepresented is receiving enormous amounts of requests from the opposing attorney. The opposing attorney may send you a number of documents asking for thousands of medical records. They may also ask for additional financial requests. Some of these requests may be very unreasonably, but are an attempt to drive up the litigation costs or burn you out to the point that you cave on an unfair settlement.
If this is happening to you, remember that you can object to some of these requests. If you feel that the request is overly burdensome or is going to cost you in a financially excessive way, you can object.
For example, lets say you have a long history of medical issues, including cancer, a number of surgeries, and other health issues. The issues have been going on for over a decade. The opposing attorney has now asked you to list every single doctor you have seen, every visit, the reason for the visit, the procedure done, and the treatment. This is unreasonable. This would take you days to complete. It also may cost you in order to obtain all of those medical records.
The Shady Bully
Other tactics that may be used against you could include misleading you in regards to what is in your best interests or pressuring you into signing something you are not comfortable with.
The most important thing to remember is that you have the same rights, regardless of being represented or not. Of course having someone to advocate for you always helps, but if you cannot financially afford someone, you will have to remain confident in the legal system.
Also, the courts are usually very helpful for unrepresented people. There is usually someone who can direct you in the right direction.