Date: August 25, 2018 01:52PM
Sure, maybe 85% of the time putting yourself in the hands of an attorney is a good step...
Divorce attorneys probably don't choose their specialty because they have an aching need to help people. "Making a good living" is much more likely to be the motivation.
Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is about freedom. But it is the rare exception when BOTH sides gain complete freedom. Especially when children are involved.
Now... In the OP's case, we only have a few established facts:
1. He's not as mormon as she is
2. They are barely able to make their house payments each month
3. He wants to be involved in his kids' lives
4. He can go "zero to 60" pretty quickly
5. His parents had no problem siding against him
We can infer that his patience is easily strained. And we can also infer that his parents are TBM.
What we don't know is whether his wife works. We don't know what state he lives in.
Economic pressure is high. Unless his credit is good and he's not already carrying a lot of credit card debit, he's going to have a problem coming up with the 'deposit' an attorney is going to want. He might get that oft-reported 'free consultation', but that consultation is as much about the attorney figuring out how much can be charged as it is about roughing out possible courses of action.
If he can't come up with the deposit, how does she? Because people will be helping her, that poor, poor victim!
So worst case scenario, he gets served and has to file responsive paperwork, and has to figure out where to lie and where not to lie. (Everybody obfusticates!)
There can be more paperwork shuttling back and forth between where the OP is camping out and her attorney's office, all designed to pin down the issues that will remain in dispute, like custody (her trying to get him aced out of his 50% time with the kids), child support (usually a plug-in-the-numbers formula), and spousal support, assuming her attorney figures she can qualify. This last figure is, again, a plug in the numbers formula.
The more the OP's financial status is an open book, the less her opportunities to 'grandstand' in hopes of getting more money. If all he has is his salary, obviously she can only get a certain percentage of it.
The OP may not really need an attorney. And certainly, he would probably be better off, given what we know, if he didn't incur further debt.
He can probably puzzle out the proper responses in the paperwork they have to exchange, and he will likely be able to show up for any hearings. And in these hearings, the fact that he is appearing in pro per (as his own attorney) will probably be taken into account by the judge. Keeping one's calm, despite provocation, is the name of the game. Despite the lack of an attorney, the judge WILL let the unrepresented party get his or her say in! One must stay calm, look composed, and keep smiling. When the lies are being spouted, one must keep one's composure and then offer balanced rebuttal. Haranguing the court about what a bitch the petitioner is does not really help.
Because much of the money issues are decided by formula if income is steady and the amount is undisputed, paying an attorney to sit beside you and the judge does the math is a waste of money. Same with spousal support. If she qualifies, it's done by a formula; no attorneys needed.
It's in the custody arena where having a guide might be useful, but if she's got more liars then you do, guess who wins? And then there's all the rigmarole of counselor and psychologists interviewing the parents and kids. Lots of well-paid make-work that churns up time and money that both sides try to rig.
Time will pass, the kids will grow up and in 40, 50 years the OP's personal habits will have done most of the work in establishing his and the kids' relationships. The divorce will have been just a little tear in the tapestry of their lives.
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