questions & answers
Question: I can't afford an attorney even through the modest means program & no one is willing to help me pro bono. I filed for divorce from my abusive husband & we reached a settlement agreement on 4/28/16. But he continues to use the judicial system to make false accusations against me & keep me in court. How can I stop this harassment, and why won't any attorneys help me pro bono? So many claim to be DV advocates but no one is advocating for me & my daugher.
Answer: Your question doesn't really give specifics about how your ex "uses the system" to continue making false accusations ... and the context matters. Someone who constantly makes false allegations will eventually pay the price in terms of lost credibility. People (including judges) won't want to believe him anymore. So the long game is in your favor. In the short term, though, you can't really stop folks from filing legal claims, true or false. The system doesn't preemptively evaluate whose papers "look believable" and whose don't. Not without a hearing, and not unless the court finds absolutely no merit to the new petition, or decides that it is barred for some technical reason, such as the 12-month waiting period. You can't expect the court not to believe your ex and throw out his papers just because *you* think he's dishonest! There are only three, real methods of holding a dishonest litigator accountable. First, you can ask the court to make him pay back your attorney fees. Second, if the dishonesty and litigation hurt the children, you can ask the court to punish him by depriving him of LDM or parenting time. See ARS 25-403(A). Third, you can sue him in civil court for a "tort" called Malicious Prosecution of a Civil Suit. It would involve a jury trial, and you'd have to follow all of the procedural requirements for personal injury cases. But if you won, you could take the jury's award and - for example - attach it to your ex-husband's property to have it sold. Bear in mind, however, that this final solution is complicated, and you would want to speak to an attorney who practices personal injury law for a living. Your last question isn't really a legal question. But I'll answer it just the same. You cannot reasonably demand free legal assistance any more than you can demand free medical care every time you visit a doctor, free counseling every time you have a session with a counselor, free plumbing every time a pipe bursts in your house, etc. I realize your case is important to you because it involves you and your children. But there are millions who think their cases are equally important, and they all want a free lawyer, too! For some reason, the public wants to carve out special rules for attorneys, but they are entitled to make a living just like everyone else does. They worked hard for their degrees and professional licenses, acquiring both college and three-year professional degrees, and often plunging into student loan debt worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unless taxpayers are willing to pay for a publicly-funded civil justice system that compensates attorneys for their time, attorneys have to charge clients privately. I'm not sure what other system you think is fair.
I can't afford an attorney even through the modest means program & no one is willing to help me pro bono. I filed for divorce from my abusive husband & we reached a settlement agreement on 4/28/16. But he continues to use the judicial system to make false accusations against me & keep me in court. How can I stop this harassment, and why won't any attorneys help me pro bono? So many claim to be DV advocates but no one is advocating for me & my daugher.
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