BELIEVE

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
Norman Vincent Peale

About Me

I am a 28 year old single mom of a 9 month old boy. He is my world and my life. Before I was pregnant I was in a very physically and emotionally abusive relationship. My son gave me the strenght to leave that man to create a good life for my child. My life has now become a matter of protecting my child to make sure the pattern of abuse does not get imposed on him so he is a "benefit to society" not a "menace to society". I am in the midst of a court battle for visitation and child support and it is taking all that I have to stay strong for my son. His father harasses me every chance he gets and is trying to take control back of my life and I won't let that happen. Please note I am not a counselor or psychologist; I am simply sharing what I have learned through my personal experience and time through counseling and groups to recover from abuse.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010
During my counselling session this week my counsellor gave me a task. She wants me to write a post on this blog, about the interesting fact of legal aid versus having to pay for a lawyer.

In my personal situation, my ex is on legal aid and I do not qualify for legal aid (I own my home) so I have to pay for a high priced lawyer. And yes, lawyers charge a pretty penny.

We have been to court approximately 10 times in the past year which has costed me thousands of dollars and him NOTHING! Now I fully support legal aid and it's importance but there are a few aspects that I find extremely frustrating.

Firstly:

Because I bought a home to raise my son in, I don't get legal aid. I get less money than my ex and support my son by my self (with out any child support) yet the government won't help me with my legal costs? The message I see here, is if you are going through court, don't own a home. Make sure you have a small apartment and no yard to raise your child.....I disagree with this fully!

Secondly:

The judges are not allowed (supposed) to know who is on legal aid and who isn't. I don't understand this concept? When you fighting for costs and the lawyers are arguing the judge should be aware of who is paying for their lawyer and who is not when making this decision.

Thirdly:

Due to the fact that my ex isn't paying for his lawyer, he doesn't care! He will go to court as many times as he wants, take advantage of it and cost me thousands of dollars just because he can! There should be more severe limitations and regulations around legal aid...these are my tax dollars paying for him to use a lawyer for free!

Fourthly:

The order of costs. My ex has been ordered costs - he was ordered in November (a fairly large sum) but given a full year to pay because he is on legal aid and doesn't have money...Well, I am a single mom on maternity leave who has my lawyer right away! If he would have negotiated and worked with us, we would not have to go to court so often. So I had to pay thousands and wait a year for him to pay me???? Then a few weeks ago, he again was ordered more costs and ordered this time to pay right away...I haven't seen anything? My lawyer says I probably won't...So what are the consequences to him??? I can't say to my lawyer "well I can't pay you today but wait a year until I get my money!!" So why can he???

Fifethy:

When the judges are making their costs orders, they ask about prior orders. Twice now, he has not been ordered to pay anything (even though technically in law terminalogy I won) because he already has an order to pay. Again, WHAT ABOUT ME???? I am only in court, because of him, yet I have to pay and he doesn't???????

Sixthly:

When we are heading into court, because I pay and he doesn't, I am reasonable, fair and only ask and request what is the best for my son. He isn't at all! He shoots for the stars and makes everything rediculously challenging WHY??? Because he doesn't care it isn't costing him anything...

Seventh:

The lovely matter of child support. Why is it, that he makes enough to pay child support, to afford a lawyer but pays nothing and I have to take him to trial to get child support and costs orders (several have been adjourned to trial)??? What is this all about??? Again, his attitude is well it doesn't cost me anything so I will avoid it as long as possible and cost her money trying to get it out of me. My attitude, if you have a child HELP ME SUPPORT HIM! My lawyer fees are driving me into the ground. I don't want to sell my house just to get child support. My home is for my son!

So this is my rant about legal aid versus paying for a lawyer. I find this frustrating and outrageous and feel that the regulations around legal aid should be changed. It is a great concept for those who need it and will use it wisely, but for those who take advantage of it and abuse it - they should be cut off!

3 comments:

sugarplumdream said...

I totally feel for you. I didn't even know about how owning a home disqualify's you for legal aid. I had help from my family to retain my attorney and now I will be paying him slowly over a lot of years. I was in a home at the time that was in foreclosure (thanks to my ex not caring if his 7 kids had a home to live in)so I don't know if I would have qualified or not. I was so terrified that I begged my mom to loan me the money to retain a lawyer. I know my abuser would have totally taken everything from me had I not had legal counsel and support. He didn’t want me to have or use an attorney. My abuser kept trying to tell me it would be so much better if we just decided everything without using attorneys. Yea, right. To me it was protection for the moment and for the future. He still spent tons of his money (that he didn't have, see above how he let the house go into foreclosure) and plenty of mine, with useless, petty motions that he never had any intention of following through on. Luckily the cost to him to actually take the motion in front of a judge was twice what it cost me, so he would let things drop at the last minute. His main intent was to scare me (he pretty much told me that over the phone at one point) and to mess around with my emotions and keep himself in my life in hopes to keep some emotional control and abuse over me.
My conclusion is that the legal system, at least in the state I live in (Washington) is not good news for women. Especially if you have been in an abusive relationship, if you have let the abuser isolate you from an education, job training, employment, etc. After 21 years of marriage I was only able to get 3 years of alimony! And I only worked for about 6 months of that entire time, until my first child was born.
I am 40 years old, going to school full-time so I can get a job that will pay 3 or 4 times minimum wage in order to support my children. The state DOES NOT CARE if you are trying to better yourself. When they figure child support they decide that since I'm CAPABLE of working minimum wage they can pretend that I do and adjust the amount of child support I can get based on the imaginary amount I could earn if I wanted to live at the poverty line for the rest of my life. Only, since the ex is actually the one with employment he gets to deduct all the children on federal taxes and get the child tax credit.
Every government agency considers alimony and child support as income EXCEPT the federal government when it comes to earned income tax credit, etc, etc. I get all the penalties for having alimony and child support and none of the benefits associated with having it qualify as income. I have never used any government hand out in my life, but right now I feel like after what I’ve been through I’m going to use whatever is available to me to help my children. It’s frustrating when it seems it’s a fight to pull oneself out of this system as well. If I were to do a program that gives you a minimum amount of training and then you go out into the work force I could get child care paid for while I’m in school for my younger children. But because I want to have a four year degree and go on to get a doctorate they won’t help me at all. Even though in the end I will end up contributing far more back into the system than anyone who uses the system they way it’s currently set up. Frankly it seems to be set up for mediocrity and for women and mothers to never be able to better themselves the way a man would be able to.

sugarplumdream said...

I don't have any way to contact you but I thought you might have some ideas or advice on how abuser use the children. I think you've posted something before, but you might not have the personal experience since your son is so young. I have children from 6yo twins to 16yo and I'm frustrated with how to deal with things he says to them.

#1 their dad has a girlfriend (who I think might be very, very young [he's 45]) who says very weird things to my kids like "your dad and I are going to get married and we don't need to have a baby because we already have the perfect amount of kids!" (this girl has no children of her own). My 6yo daughter told me this week and "monique" and her dad went to the dr to see if they were going to have a baby and they weren't but it's okay cause they already have enough children. I finally told me 6yo twins that they were my children and their dad's children, not "monique's" children.

#2 My children just spent the weekend with their dad and he made sure they knew how sad he was because he wasn't going to see them for a long time since they will be spending their Spring Break and Easter at home with me. He purposely makes the 6yos feel sorry for him and they tell me that maybe I should say sorry to dad for, something, I'm not sure what. He has a weekday visitation almost every week. It's just very frustrating that he uses the kid's emotions. He's very immature and has no concept of putting aside his own needs for the needs of others. When my 6yos ask me if I'm sad when they leave (they seem to want me to be sad) I tell them that I try to only think about how I will see them again really soon and that I would only be sad if I thought they weren't being taken good care of. I tell them as long as they are happy when they go with their dad then I'm happy too and not sad. But my ex has to constantly make the kids feel bad for being where they are at with their own mother. I can't do anything about what he does, but there has to be a way to counteract these things they come home with.

Oh, and I'm going to start going to a support group. I found out I can bring my young kids with me and they have someone there to do crafts, etc with them in the next room while I'm at the support meeting.

~me

abusemom81 said...

WOW! Things are definitely different in the states than in Canada. Here child support has NOTHING to do with how much I make, or could make, it is 100% dependent on his salary. But here, if he chooses not to pay, I have to take him to court to get any support from him which I think is stupid. I don't know much about alimon;y, we were not married, but I do know from my group that half of his government pension should be yours. Does the states have a government pension? Here it is called CPP and you contact them and request his amount to be adjusted for half of it to go to you.
The schooling is great for you, but it sucks that there is no support? Here in Canada, we have a program called second careers where they pay for your school and they pay you a monthly income of about $1700.00 while you are in school. It is truely said that there is no help for you but good for you for taking that step and imprpoving your education and skills. That is a GREAT example for your children. YOu are a strong women and you will see successes. And awesome about the group let me know how it goes for you!

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