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Posted by: rubi123 ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 08:10PM

My ex-husband is taking me to court for an order to show cause for not cooperating with modification of child support. He has a lawyer who didn't provide any official documentation about why child support should be modified, just an email to me with a spreadsheet she created. When I didn't respond, I got served.

Now I plan to represent myself for my response and a counter motion. (Please don't tell me to talk to an attorney -- I've talked to two lawyers and I simply can't afford one. I was able to get enough info from one of them to start on my paperwork.)

My question in, when I represent myself, do I call myself "The petitioner" in the response, or do I say "I"? Such as "I request a judgment for past due child support in the amount of X"?

Next question -- the counter motion one attorney told me to file is called a Motion for Judgement. Has anyone heard of this type of a motion? I've scoured the self-help resources on and can't find anything with that exact name. So I'm concerned that my paperwork won't be legit.

Tomorrow I'm going to a self-help clinic at a courthouse, but I wanted to see if anyone on this board has any idea about these things. I've generally found the advice on here to be varied and quite helpful.

Thanks for your input and yes, I know that having an attorney would be beneficial, but when my ex owes me almost nine grand in child support plus 5 grand in extra expenses (like medical and school tuition) there's not a lot left over for me to pay an attorney $250 an hour.

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Posted by: Hockeyrat ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 08:36PM

Can't you get a court appointed attorney, or one for bono? You can call the number that you usually get in the mail , that tells you what number and time frame to do it with.
You can tell them of your situation; they'll probably or should talk with you anyway

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 10:28PM

Utah has family courts, does it not, for each county in the state?

If you're the custodial parent I concur with Hockeyrat that you may be able to get a court appointed attorney to represent you and your children at a fraction of what a private attorney would cost you.

These things can be long and drawn out with child support cases. Your state should be pro-active if it's pro-family at all in helping you to obtain the support you need from ex-spouse.

If they don't ask for a referral to a clinic or agency in your community that does. Start with your county support collection unit.

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Posted by: [|] ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 10:40PM

I don't know if you are in Utah, but if you are, here are some resources:

particularly scroll down to these if you are in SL:

-Assisted Pro Se Program, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake

-Family Law Brief Advice Clinic

-If you want to represent yourself, try these for assistance:

Forms Help

Self-Represented Litigant Family Law Clinic

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 08:45PM

Based on personal experience here are a few things to think about:

Obviously your ex's motion is all about getting you to accept less money per month. There may be some verbiage in there regarding the past due, but hopefully your judge will side with you that that money is 'past due' and has to be paid, with no reduction allowed.

The request to reduce the monthly stipend that was sent to you could have, in theory, been accepted by you and then become the new order of the day. The judge is being asked to rule on the issue, and will either question your ex directly, and/or allow you to ask your ex questions regarding the reduction.

In other words WHY does your ex believe that his kids should get less money from him? No doubt there will be supporting documents with this information supplied by his attorney. Your ex will be swearing that the information contained in the petition, or his testimony, is true.

If you have any data disputing his 'facts', you need to be able to present it to the court as dryly and as factually as you can. His attorney would love to make you look like a greedy, hysterical conniver.

If you don't have the information on which he is basing the request for modification, and are just being handed it there in court, and after a quick perusal you think you can show 'proof' that it's balderdash, you should politely ask the court for a new court date, on the basis of a need for time to properly respond.

On paper it's pretty simple. Your ex believes that he has a factual basis for reducing the child support. If you have information that disputes his contention, you either have to have it ready to show the judge tomorrow, or if you think you can get it, you ask for a postponement.

The issue of the amount that he is in default isn't before the court right now. You need to raise it. You need to have some pretty tight figures, with dates. I'd try to ask the court why he's bothering to ask for a reduction when he's not paying anything (or paying a reduced amount) already.

And I don't know exactly how you want to do this, but something along the lines of "Your honor, he's paying for an attorney! I don't have enough money to pay for one, so what does that say about his financial circumstances. I hope she got her money up front!" The right kind of sad bitterness might pierce the judge's heart. They are human.

Going to court is such a game...

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Posted by: far away ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 09:18PM

I watched a real court case where the defendant representing himself, kept referring to himself in third person, "he, ...the defendant, ... the accused... did you say to him..."

It was one of the most stupid displays of an adult pretending to be something he wasn't that I ever saw. He wasn't talking about someone else, but himself. He sounded like he had just binge-watched a Law & Order marathon.

He lost the case, too.

The judge and other legally trained and experienced people will know you're not a lawyer. Be authentic, be truthful. They don't expect you to "know" what took them many years of practice to learn. I would think the presumption that you might think you could "pull it off" a little annoying.

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Posted by: rubi123 ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 11:18PM

Thanks for the advice and input. I've started with the online system and it will help me generate paperwork for my response. I'll check out the family law legal clinic in West Jordan tomorrow. I took half a day off to do that.

It's a little overwhelming but one step at a time.

Thanks again. :)

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Posted by: far away ( )
Date: November 10, 2017 09:22AM

"Good morning, your honor. I am the petitioner, and I respectfully request that the court grant my petition based on the evidence I will present, specifically, that the respondent has...[list your ievidence]."

...or along those lines. Use any rules of behavior that you know, and >everyone else< is third person, except when speaking directly to the judge, "Your Honor, may I..." but it is "the court" that finds and renders decisions.

Wait for your turn to respond to your ex's defenses. As he or his attorney says things you know to be untrue, write key words down, to trigger your memory when it's your turn to speak, to rebut.

You can be passionate, but controlled. Passion is persuasive; hot-headed is out of control. If you get choked up, say so, and ask for a moment to "please gather my thoughts."

If chastised by the judge for any reason, honestly apologize, don't defend, don't interrupt.

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: November 10, 2017 10:18AM

Call yourself "I," don't try to use formal legal terms.

There are LOTS of pro se litigants in J&D courts. Judges are used to them. Often they will ask you questions to help them adjudicate matters. Be informal. You are not an atty and everyone knows that.

If the judge asks you a question, listen carefully to the question, and then answer the question asked. Simple advice, but you don't know how often it is ignored.

Bring ANY supporting evidence you can think of that might help the judge make a decision. Tell the judge what evidence you have with you, and then show it to him if he asks for it. Oh, Court procedure is for you to hand the document to the bailiff, and then the bailiff hands it to the judge.

J&D court judges are for the most part outstanding people wiht a unique perspective on the human condition. For the most part they are extraordinarily patient, and somehow manage to bring a sense of calm to the proceedings, where people are feeling anything but calm when they walk in. I think they must get special training to be that way.

That is all I can think of.

Lois Lane
Girl Reporter
That is Girl Court Reporter

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