The following hypothetical situation happens more frequently than most non-lawyers imagine, but yet husbands and wives continue to either choose not to hire their own divorce lawyer or somehow think that it’s a good idea to share a divorce attorney:
Husband and Wife have been married a couple years and have one child born of their marriage. Wife decides she wants a divorce. Wife hires a lawyer to assist her with her divorce. Wife files for divorce and Husband is served with the divorce papers. In the interim, Wife and Husband discuss their divorce and begin working through some of their issues. Husband realizes that reconciliation is not possible, but believes he has reached an agreement to resolve their issues. Husband and Wife continue to share custody of their young son with Dad/Father seeing his son frequently. Father does not hire his own lawyer because he believes he and Mother have divided up their property and arranged a child custody schedule. After all, Father has been seeing his son almost every day for over a month. Father fails to appear in court as directed by the summons. Mother is awarded custody of the child with the assistance of her lawyer. Mother is now unwilling to allow Father to see the child except as ordered by the court.
What are Father’s options? What can Father do to be able to see his son?
There are a number of lessons to be learned from this hypothetical. First, Father should have hired his own divorce attorney to assist him and protect his interests. Second, Father should have appeared in court. This does not mean that the court would assist Father or provide him legal advice, but quite possibly the court would have allowed Father the opportunity to hire a lawyer. Third, Father assumed too much in thinking he had an agreement with Mother. Finally, Father is not without hope. Father still has options available to him and the options depend on how quickly he may be able to hire his own lawyer to assist him. However, had Father initially hired his own divorce lawyer, he would obviously not be in this situation.
Scott A. Hamblin is a shareholder at Brydon Swearengen & England, P.C. regularly practicing in the areas of divorce, child custody and family law. For information regarding your situation, please contact Scott at (573) 635-7166, www.scotthamblinlaw.com or at www.brydonlaw.com.