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"I need help!"

Someone recently wrote in to us:

"I need help. My ex and I divorced about three years ago. We share custody of our 10 year old daughter, though my ex is primary. My ex recently met 'the love of her life.' He lives in Nebraska. She wants to move my daughter out there so that she can 'explore and deepen this promising relationship.' My daughter doesn't want to go. She hasn't even met this man.

My ex filed to modify our custody arrangement. I thought I could handle it on my own. We went to trial yesterday and I lost. The Judge ruled that my ex can move with my daughter. Instead of every other weekend and one night per week, I'll get a week at Christmas and two in the summer. Please help me."

Another wrote:

"I'm in a very bad situation. My husband threw me out about a year ago. I haven't worked since our two children were born, seven year old twins. I didn't have a job. He kept all the money. I had to move back home to my parents' house in Macon. My husband let me see the children about once a month for a couple of hours, always in public, always when he was around.

Anyway, he filed for divorce. At the hearing, the Judge gave me supervised visitation for four hours every other Saturday. I don't know what to do. I don't drink. I don't do drugs. I'm not crazy. I'm just my children's mother. Can you help me?"

Finally:

"I was wondering if you could help me. My wife and I were getting a divorce. We were married for about a year and a half. She quit work when we got married. I took care of all of our bills. I found out that she had been taking money from our account and stashing it away in her separate account. Then I found out that she had taken up with her high school sweetheart.

She hired an attorney and I didn't. Our trial was about two months ago. She got everything. Both our cars, all the money in our account, my house (and I still have to pay for it) and I have to pay her alimony of $5,000.00 a month. I realize that I should have hired a lawyer, I just thought that a divorce from a year and a half long marriage wasn't such a big deal. Can you help me?"

These three stories have something in common: the people waited too long to ask for help from an attorney. Law is inherently complicated. Whether it should or shouldn't be is an academic question when your children and your property are on the line. Litigation is a complicated process.  Without a lawyer, you are going unarmed into a gun fight.

Court means business, serious business, business that can leave you whole or leave you broken. You need help.

When should you ask for help? Most family law attorneys provide free consultations. Take that opportunity. No matter how much you know, you will be surprised by the information a quality consultation will yield. You should be able to leave that consultation with a game plan, a strategy that, if implemented, will help protect you and accomplish your goals.

Knowledge is power so you will gain that knowledge, that power, in a quality consultation. For that reason, you need knowledge as soon as possible, as early in the process as you have any inkling that anything is amiss, out of whack or just downright wrong.

For heaven's sake, don't wait until the gavel has fallen and your case is concluded. Don't wait to try to repair what didn't need to be destroyed in the first place. In the first case, he should have contacted an attorney when he first learned that his ex had met the "love of her life" from Nebraska. Nothing good was going to come after that disclosure. For the second case, she needed to contact an attorney the minute her husband threw her out, if not before (he was probably rather abusive throughout the marriage). For the third, he should have contacted an attorney when he realized the divorce was anywhere in the picture. Even after trial, he needed to get something done within 30 days of his trial to preserve any appeal rights he might have.  Alimony?  Probably never would have happened.

So, the moral to the stories is don't wait. Don't suffer in the dark. Get a consultation with an attorney at the earliest possible moment. Learn your options. Then make your best moves.

You need help.  Can an attorney help? We absolutely can. Just bring us into the situation before it is too late.

-Michael Manely 

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