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GMick4472

Divorce and legal representation

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My daughter, a resident of Wichita, Kansas, recently divorced after 8.5 years of marriage.  She was told by her ex she could not have her own lawyer but they used the same lawyer.  Is this an accurate assessment of the divorce process in Kansas that in order to obtain a divorce, a couple must use the same lawyer?  Also, regarding the custodial arrangements for my daughter's two minor children, ages 6 and 5, the custody is shared.  Is it possible for a parent to be the sole custodial parent and what criteria is required for this to happen?  Finally, there is some ambiguity regarding child support and alimony.  Her alimony is $110 per month for two years while the child support is $350 until the children each reach 18.  Can alimony be continued until my daughter remarries?  Also, how is the payment process handled, by the state administering the support after garnishing the father's wage or the father paying the state directly?  Thank you. 

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Divorce is, by definition, an adversary process.  Therefore, one attorney cannot represent both parties.  I am absolutely certain that Kansas, or any other state, would not require that both parties have the same lawyer.  However, one attorney can draft a settlement agreement for one of the parties which can then be presented as a proposal to the other party.  The attorney who drafts the proposed settlement agreement should take care to not give the party he is not representing any reason to believe he or she is also their attorney.  It is a very fine line to walk, but it is essential that the parties are clear about who is the attorney's client.

 

It is certainly possible for one parent to be the sole custodial parent of the children.  That is probably the most common arrangement.  The other parent will normally have visitation rights and joint rights to monitor and be involved in education and health care.  The criteria is the best interest of the children while also respecting the parental rights of the parties.

 

Alimony (aka spousal support) has no relatiion to child support.  Child support is always continued until the child reaches majority or reaches some other defined state, such as graduation from high school or court decreed imancipation.  The amount of child support is commonly determined by a statutorily defined process, usually based on the joint income of the parents and the relative shares of income of the parents.

 

Alimony is usually determined by a myriad of factors including relative ability to support one's self, education, length of mariage, contribution to the marriage, vocational experience, etc.  In this case the alimony is apparently rehabilitative alimony, paid to allow the spouse time to re-enter the work force.  Alimony and child support can be paid in many ways, including voluntary party to party payments, wage garnishment, or payments through a state agency.

 

Having said all that: What is your interest here?  The divorce is apparently final. There is nothing you can do about it.  In fact, you have no standing in the case at all.  Please do not criticize your daughter because you think she made a bad deal.  Support her.

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Sir,

 

Thank you for your reply; however, it is not my intent to criticize my daughter's decision but, to provide her with answers she was unable to derive from her ex spouse or the attorney who represented him and my daughter.  My interest is for the protection of my daughter and my grandchildren, not interference as you implied.  The "shared" custody is proving to be problematic for the children and their adjustment to the schedule the lawyer arranged.  At the request of my daughter, I am seeking to find on her behalf, if there is a solution more reasonable than the existing arrangement which is M-T (daughter), W-T (ex) FSS, every other week.

 

Regarding the legal representation my daughter received to obtain the divorce, our concern is that "her" best interests were not foremost in the dissolution of the marriage; however, regardless of the details, you are correct, the divorce is final.  We are only sorry she did not permit us to secure representation for her on an individual basis to protect her interests.  Rather, she wanted to spare us and permitted her ex to control the situation which culminated in the results as they are today.

 

While I appreciate your input, assuming you are either an attorney or have extensive legal experience, you painted a broad stroke of criticism towards me for my inquiry while not having a full understanding of my motive. I do not owe you an explanation; however, as I stated initially, my daughter's marriage lasted 8.5 years.  Suffice it to say, if it would have been a wonderful relationship, divorce would not have occurred.  She is a victim of 8.5 years of living with an alcoholic who was physically and mentally abusive to her.  They married here in Houston, where he was band director of a prestigious high school, having a Master's Degree in music.  She is a deaf education teacher.  He could not handle finances, indebted himself to the point he resigned his teaching position, moved my daughter and grandchildren to Kansas, from where he originates and joined the Kansas Army National Guard so THEY would pay his college loans on which he had defaulted, if he agreed to an eight year stint with the military.  He is NOT an officer but an enlisted soldier because he has had four (4) felonies. 

 

So you see, you were not privy to the reality of the situation but surmised I was an interfering mother, rather than a concerned parent for the safety and well-being of her daughter and grandchildren.  Again, I appreciate your legal input however, I would think you would want ALL the facts before making assumptions. 

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My daughter . . . was told by her ex she could not have her own lawyer

 

And she believed him???

 

 

 

Is this an accurate assessment of the divorce process in Kansas that in order to obtain a divorce, a couple must use the same lawyer?

 

Of course not.  In fact, asbsent a written conflict waiver, a lawyer may not represent both parties in a divorce.  And, even with a conflict waiver, the lawyer is limited as to what he/she can do.  Such an arrangement is generally only suitable where both parties agree on all material terms of the divorce and simply want a lawyer to prepare the appropriate papers so that things get done correctly.

 

 

 

Is it possible for a parent to be the sole custodial parent

 

Yes.

 

 

 

what criteria is required for this to happen?

 

https://www.ksbar.org/?child_custody

 

 

 

Finally, there is some ambiguity regarding child support and alimony.  Her alimony is $110 per month for two years while the child support is $350 until the children each reach 18.  Can alimony be continued until my daughter remarries?

 

It's not clear from this what ambiguity you think exists.  $110 per month for two years could hardly be clearer, but, of course, we haven't read the actual divorce decree.  As far as modifying alimony after-the-fact, that generally isn't possible.  If she wanted more alimony, she should have asked for it.  If she didn't ask for it at the time, then she's likely out of luck.  However, she certainly can consult with a local family law attorney to see if there's any possibility of obtaining a modification.

 

 

 

how is the payment process handled, by the state administering the support after garnishing the father's wage or the father paying the state directly?

 

In the absence of facts indicating otherwise, I can't imagine why the father wouldn't simply write the mother a check every month (or twice a month or at whatever frequency is stated in the divorce decree).  If the father fails to pay voluntarily, the mother can seek a wage garnishment.

 

 

 

The "shared" custody is proving to be problematic for the children and their adjustment to the schedule the lawyer arranged.

 

This would be the schedule to which your daughter and her ex mutually agreed.  Right?

 

 

 

At the request of my daughter, I am seeking to find on her behalf, if there is a solution more reasonable than the existing arrangement which is M-T (daughter), W-T (ex) FSS, every other week.

 

There's nothing inherently "unreasonable" about that schedule, but the number of options for custody/visitation are virtually innumerable.  If the schedule to which your daughter and her ex-husband mutually agreed is proving problematic in practice, then they should discuss alternatives.  If they can agree to something else, then they likely can have their divorce decree modified by stipulation.

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If your daughter is still working she should hire her own 

attorney to review whether the circumstances could qualify

for a Petition To Modify and how best to handle your

ex-son-in-law's military service status.   

 

If not, you should consider making a contribution to

those attorney fees for at least her consultation.

 

And she should strongly consider enrolling in some

battered women shelter's self-esteem classes such

as at a local NFP if available and if that might benefit her.

 

This board is NOT designed to be a step-by-step seminar

on DIY representation. 

 

And while I understand that this is not your case, if

she won't take your suggestions,  that is her choice

as she is an adult.  

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Hi there,

 

As you can probably see from the above responses, it is not standard practice (in Kansas, or anywhere else) for a divorcing couple to be required to use the same attorney. Unfortunately, it looks as if you daughter was manipulated into agreeing to terms she did not actually want. I agree that she should look in to hiring her own attorney to discuss modifying custody. She can find a number of qualified attorneys in her area by using FindLaw's lawyer directory. Good luck!

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I have to conclude that he's the one who sought divorce.   Under the circumstances, it wouldn't make any sense whatever that if she were the one who filed that she wouldn't already be in a mental place where she'd realize that if his lips were moving, he was manipulating/lying.  Victim mindset is hard to shake, but the scenario you're suggesting is pretty extraordinary.  It's too bad you didn't consult an attorney at the time on your own, but ...

How much dough does he make?  (The numbers you mention seem crazy low, so I'm hoping he makes very little.)

 

I should think under the circumstances, your daughter ought to discuss with an attorney the possibility of setting aside the settlement agreement.  We can't know whether a cost-benefit analysis would make the attempt a good idea.  (As for the money issue, sounds like neither of them make much.)

 

Down the road, if this attorney didn't make it clear that he represented your daughter's husband and if he gave her legal advice, she should report that #*!% lawyer to Kansas state bar (google "Kansas attorney grievance").

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