Wrapping up this series on Katrina, topping off all of Katrina’s issues is that fact that she has no divorce attorney to represent her in her child custody battle and divorce and her unemployed status means she’s not able to afford an attorney either. Here’s Katrina:
I don’t have a divorce attorney right now. I’m representing myself. My last attorney committed ethical violations against me. He was holding my money for sex. He’s being investigated and there’s potential for felony charges for coercion and extortion. I think they think I’m a flake because I’ve changed attorneys three times.
The first attorney took herself off my case. That was right at the beginning of all this and I completely blew off three meetings. That was her right.
I think my husband’s attorneys see me as an easy target and I hope to God, they underestimate me and don’t expect me to rearrange my life to get my daughter back. I don’t even want her full-time. I’m asking for shared custody. I’m just so scared but I’m not going to stop. I’ll do it myself.
I’m a research scientist and I’m very good at it. So I can go to Denver University library and research the legal issues. Now I’m being squeezed financially to the point where it’s very hard for me to get professional witnesses that I have to pay for. But I’m resourceful. I used to work as a social worker at a women’s shelter and as a therapist at a drug and alcohol treatment center.
I need to learn how to object, what I can ask, how to cross-examine and really do my best. I represented myself before and it was a disaster. I learned they are not on my side. If you don’t follow the rules, it goes against you.
I do have a lawyer I’ve been paying for consultations. She’s fantastic but it’s $245 an hour. She can coach me on what to do so I can go research it. My husband wants the court to believe I’m an unconscionable drug addict that cannot make sense of what’s right for me right now. My father was a crime scene investigator and I hope I maybe inherited his detective ability and I can prove them wrong.
The Divorce Coach Says
I admire Katrina’s determination to be her own divorce attorney – she knows she’s a smart, intelligent woman who should be capable of this. I think it’s a gutsy move and I would like nothing more than to see her succeed. I also see that Katrina can acknowledge her past mistakes, such as why her first attorney removed herself, and is committed to not making those mistakes again.
I’m fearful however. I have this imaginary scene where her husband’s attorneys are mocking her in the court room and the judge is allowing them to walk over her because sometimes people with professional qualifications can behave like that to “outsiders” who have the audacity to think they can do the work it took years for the professionals to train for.
I’m fearful that Katrina with a stint in a treatment center and her mental health issues, will be an easy target, as she says. There’s that double edged sword – she gets medical treatment and then it’s used against her to show that she isn’t stable enough to be trusted with her daughter.
I think some divorces can be handled without attorneys – when there aren’t a lot of financial assets, when you and your husband are basically in agreement on everything and there is full disclosure on both sides. In the recent series on Suzanne, she shared how getting no child support was a relief. Suzanne and her husband had handled their own divorce and that’s worked well.
Other women I’ve interviewed have also agreed to a “no-attorney” divorce only to think down the road that was a mistake. Pippi, wanted to avoid all confrontation and knew things would get ugly if she involved lawyers so she didn’t. But that meant forgoing any possible alimony and a formal arrangement on child support.
Yes, divorce attorneys are expensive but I look at it as an investment in your future. These people deal with divorce all the time, they know the nuances and at a time when you may not be thinking clearly, it’s good to have an expert on your side.
In Katrina’s case, being unemployed, she doesn’t have the money herself to pay for an attorney but what confuses me is that I thought Colorado is a community property state and she’s still married. Doesn’t that mean that her legal expenses could be coming out of marital property? Is is more a question of not having access to the bank accounts? Where does someone in Katrina’s position turn to for help?
I don’t have the answers but Katrina’s story has prompted me to line up a few interviews on the topic and I’ll be sharing those with you in the next few weeks.
I asked Katrina to keep me posted on her story but I haven’t heard from her so Katrina, if you’re reading this, thank you for having the courage to share your story. I truly hope you’ve been able to see your daughter.