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Showing posts with label SELF HELP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SELF HELP. Show all posts

Thursday, April 16, 2015

WOMEN WHO DIVORCE AT CONSIDERABLY INCREASED RISK OF HEART ATTACK!

Reporter Amy Norton of HealthDay News reports as follows:

"Duke University researchers found that among nearly 16,000 U.S. adults followed over two decades, those who were divorced at some point had a higher heart attack risk than those who stayed married.

The connection seemed stronger among women, but there was no evidence that a second marriage improved their situation. Women who remarried were still 35 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who stayed with their first husband..."

For more on this topic, please click on the link below:

http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/divorce-tied-higher-chance-heart-attack-study/?xid=aol_eh-cardio_6_20150413_&aolcat=ESR

Sunday, June 2, 2013

PANAMA PUBLISHING SERIES FOR SELF REPRESENTED PARTIES!

Panama Publishing writes detailed, informative, litigant friendly guidebooks on how to navigate your way through the family court system.  You may wish to look them up at:

www.panama-publishing.com

Thursday, May 23, 2013

PROPOSED PILOT PROGRAM FOR CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL SYSTEM WOULD ALLOW ATTORNEYS TO OFFER LIMITED SCOPE REPRESENTATION OR "UNBUNDLING"!

At the Annual 2012 meeting of judges in Connecticut, Judge Chase Rogers expressed concern about the rising number of self represented parties in the judicial system today.  Right now, at least 85% of cases in family court have one or both parties representing him or herself. 
 
Like many other States around the country, Connecticut has been trying to adjust the way it does business in order to respond to this situation. 
 
For example, most courthouses in Connecticut have a Court Service Center available for self-represented parties where there are computers, fax and copy machines, as well as a telephones which they can use free of charge.  Some of these Centers have clerks working there who are available to provide litigants with court forms and answer basic questions about how to navigate your way around the court system. The larger court service centers have regular hours where marshalls are available to take papers that need to be served. 
 
In addition, some courthouses have volunteer attorneys available once a week to answer questions on a first come, first serve basis. 
 
Also, the Connecticut Judicial Website has tutorials and videos to keep self represented parties informed about some of the more basic procedures they are required to follow, i.e. information on how to file an appearance. 
 
Now, if judges approve the new addition to The Connecticut Practice Book proposed for this year, Section (b) of Rule 3-8 Appearance for Represented Party, the Chief Court Administrator will be authorized to establish a pilot program for Limited Scope Representation (or what is informally known as "unbundling") by attorneys in one or more judicial districts throughout the state. 
 
What is Limited Scope Representation?  This is a concept originally attributed to UCLA law Professor Forrest S. Mosten who, in 2000, wrote the book "Unbundling Legal Services:  A Guide to Delivering Legal Services a la Carte."  It consists of a method of legal representation in the United States where an attorney and client limit the scope of the attorney's involvement in a lawsuit to specific aspects of the case and leaving the remaining aspects to the client as a means to save money.
 
As with other things, when it comes to innovative practices like this, we in the State of Connecticut are somewhat slow about getting cutting edge practices such as Limited Scope Representation implemented.  Thus, according to a an article written in 2010 by Susan Cartier Liebel, "Is 'Unbundling' in Your Future?  It Better Be or You May Have No Future," "Forty-one states, including California and New Hampshire, have [already] adopted a model rule drafted by the American Bar Association" 
 
Why is this happening and why is Limited Scope Representation so popular?  According to Ms. Liebel, litigants simply cannot afford to spend lots of money on legal representation in these difficult economic times.  Not only that, the spread of information on the internet combined with a judicial system that itself provides litigants with considerable information has empowered people to the point where they want more input into what happens in their cases. 
 
Connecticut's new Limited Scope Representation laws will come with some limitations.  For example, only attorneys affiliated with this pilot program would be able to file a Limited Scope Appearance.  Attorneys will not be allowed to file limited appearances in connection to criminal or juvenile cases. 
 
And for those who are interested, this still does not constitute side by side representation where a self represented party conducts the case on an equal basis with the attorney.  In any matters for which the self represented party has legal representation, the self represented party must step aside and allow the attorney full authority. 
 
On the other hand, interestingly enough, an attorney will not be able to file a limited scope appearance until the self represented party has filed his or her appearance. 
 
The Practice Book has other suggested rule changes to accommodate limited scope representation. Such rule changes are as follows: 
 
Under Rule 1.5 Fees, Section (b), newly proposed rules require the attorney to file an appearance for the specific services he will provide and then he is required to file a Certificate of Completion once those services have been provided. 
 
Under Rule 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation, an attorney who provides limited scope representation will not have to ask permission from a judge in order to terminate his representation.  For those of us who have suffered because of attorneys who will not go away, this will be a considerable improvement!
 
Rule 3-8 Appearance For Represented Party, Section (b) gives the attorney specific instructions on how to file an appearance when providing limited scope representation stating, among other things, that the attorney in this situation will only receive copies of documents related to the matter he will be working on. 
 
Section 3-9 Withdrawal of Appearance provides details on how to file a Certificate of Completion regarding the matter for which an attorney provided limited scope representation. 
 
Under Rules of Professional Ethics 4-2 Communication With a Person Represented by Counsel, the opposing counsel is not allowed to discuss with the self-represented party any matters that will be handled for that party by an attorney under a limited scope representation agreement.
 
Rules from Chapter 4-2 Signing of the Pleading states that if an attorney assisted a self represented party in writing a pleading (ghostwriting!), that attorney is not required to sign the pleading, but there should be an acknowledgement of that attorney's assistance in the pleading. 
 
Some well known attorneys in Connecticut have already begun to take advantage of this approach.  For example, Attorney Susan Wakefield of Connecticut Legal Coaching. 

For more information on Attorney Wakefield, see the link below:

http://www.ctlegalcoaching.com/


Attorney Wakefield is an attorney with over 22 years of experience who has put together a law film with the expressed intention of assisting litigants who are representing themselves in their divorce, custody, or post-divorce matter. 
 
As she puts it, "Legal Coaching, with its unique pay-as-you-go and "A La Carte" structure makes quality legal services accessible to all individuals so they can acquire the knowledge and tools needed to navigate through the system on their own." 
 
There is also Greenwich Attorney Barbara Shea with her unbundled legal services known as "Partners-in-Law", a part of the law firm that allows people to represent themselves with some legal guidance to point them in the right direction."  Journalist Debra Cassens Weiss reports Shea as saying, "Instead of letting someone dump everything on my desk, I teach them the smart way to solve a case...The concept is based on giving clients choice and control over their legal matters."  

I would add more on contacting Attorney Barbara Shea because I do like her ideas, but she has been reprimanded by the Statewide Grievance Committee on more than one occasion.  So working with her is all at your own risk.  I don't know what to say about her history, except that I know of people who have done so much worse that she did who are walking around scott free.  People can be redeemable, but every litigant has to make up his or her own mind. 

 Finally, attorneys have raised some ethical concerns in regard to this practice.  For example, limited scope representation could allow attorneys to evade the legal consequences of malpractice by simply saying, I didn't represent the client in that area. 
 
There could be problems with communication which result in a situation where the attorney and the client are unsure of who is responsible for what aspect of the case, and then someone drops the ball on some vital area of the case as a consequence and both end up blaming the other. 
 
In terms of legal ghostwriting, if an attorney writes documents for a self represented party, this could give the self represented party an advantage in situations where judges allow self represented parties more leeway.  Proposed Connecticut Rules do require a litigant to acknowledge the assistance of an attorney, but who is to know how faithfully such rules will be followed. 
 
Despite these criticisms, with more than 40 states on board, it doesn't look like anything will be able to stop the momentum behind the movement to provide Limited Scope Representation.  Online businesses such as LegalZoom and "Ask an Attorney" websites are prospering in the busy, chaotic, fairly unregulated internet marketplace and there are no signs of them stopping any time soon. 

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/documents/SH-tab2.pdf

ABA White Paper,
http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/legalservices/delivery/downloads/prose_white_paper.authcheckdam.pdf

Sunday, December 16, 2012

COURAGEOUS KIDS SPEAK!

About Jennifer
 
Jennifer's mother, Holly Collins is a former battered mother who was the first American to receive asylum in Europe.  Despite the fact that the Family Court judge acknowledged that Holly was a victim of domestic violence, he  decided that she was too traumatized from the abuse to care for her own children. 
 
As a result, Jennifer and her older brother, Zachery, were placed in the sole custody of their abusive father, even while the judge decided to place the youngest brother, Christopher in the mother's care.  This decision was made despite clearcut evidence that the father was beating the children. 
 
In desperation, Holly and her children, including Jennifer, fled the country in 1994 and were later granted asylum in Holland.  Their story is told eloquently in the documentary "No Way Out But One."
 
About Jeff
 
Jeff has been in the court system for ten years starting at the age of seven.  At that time, his sisters reported that their Dad had been molesting them and Jeff felt that the story rang true because he'd been aware that his father would go to the room and get into bed with them. This began the divorce proceedings which led them to Family Court.
 
After totally fraudulent reports from the custody evaluator and the GAL, the judge placed Jeff and his sisters in his Father's custody, and they were not allowed to see their Mom who was accused of PAS.  Eventually, when Jeff was 17 he simply packed his bags, left and went to live with his mother.  He lives with sadness and pain because he knows that his younger sisters are still trapped with their abusive Father.
 
About Fatima
 
Originally, Fatima was living with her mother and her parents had joint custody.  Then when she was 8 years old, her father took her to CPS and accused the mother of abusing Fatima.  The CPS worker asked Fatima if her mother ever spanked her.  Once in a while, Fatima's mother would swat her on the bottom for discipline, so Fatima responded with a yes.  Then, suddenly, Fatima's mother was accused of child abuse and she lost custody of Fatima to the father. 
 
When Fatima was in her father's home, her father ignored her and neglected her, and her stepmother also verbally abused her.  Fatima's father told her that her mother didn't want her any more, and that the mother was a drug abuser.
 
Eventually, Fatima ran away from home and was placed in foster care, and then eventually was able to return to live with her mother where she is now.  She says, "I have little respect, trust, or regard for the California family court system and I will be emotionally scarred for life because my father was able to use the courts as he willed to retaliate against my mother and I."
 
These are the stories of the many courageous kids who have endured high conflict divorces in the family court system in states all over America, sometimes remaining in the system for ten years or more.  They can be found on the website for The Courageous Kids Network located at the following link:
 
 
According to Courageous Kids Network, the Network "is a growing group of young people, whose childhoods were shattered by inhumane court rulings, which forced us to live with our abusive parent, while restricting or sometimes completely eliminating contact with our loving and protective parent." 
 
These young people have survived the trauma and matured, and gotten to the point where they are able to speak out about the torture and pain they endured from their abusers and by the family court that did nothing to protect them.  According to Courageous Kids, by establishing this network, they are "joining together to find strength and healing."
 
At this point, this Network of young people is reaching out to other kids who have undergone the same struggles and they provide an opportunity for these kids to tell their stories and obtain support from other suvivors of family court abuse. 
 
They provide a list of suggestions on how to survive living with a batterer or molester so that you can fight your way out of an abusive situation.  A highlight of this website is a birthday cupcake ready for those who are 18 and legally allowed to live where they please and associate with whom they please. 

Courageous Kids are those who were physically, emotionally, and some sexually abused by one of their parents.  Sometimes, despite witnesses or medical evidence of the abuse, family court did not believe it happened.

Instead, family court said the children who spoke up, or the protective parent was lying.  Then family court punished the parent who was trying to protect the children, most often by completely cutting off all access to these children.

Thousands of children have been and are still taken from their protective parent and put with their abusers per court orders.  Some children are forced to live with their abuser for years, or when they are finally able to leave, they are forced to leave younger siblings behind.

They are fearful of speaking out against their abuser because they are afraid that the family court will punish them and their protective parent if they do so. 

If you are a young person, and what you have read about these young people is the same as your situation, that you are a Courageous Kid, and this network can help you.
 
For those of you still out there struggling in a court ordered abusive living situation, you are not alone.  Connect with others who are or who have been where you are at right now at the Courageous Kids Network.  If you want to write to Network, the address is below:

Courageous Kids Network
P.O. Box 1903
Davis, CA  95617

or you can email them at:

courageouskidsnetwork@hotmail.com


 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

SHOW ME THE MONEY WORKSHEET!

When it came to the decision on child support and alimony during my divorce, the attorneys in the case who were all biased in support of my X kept on emphasizing my X's W-2 forms and referring to that form as the sole source of information in regard to my X's income.  In fact, there are multiple ways to locate income when the time comes to establishing what your X's income is. 

You can see this in the "Show Me the Money Worksheet" provided by The Modern Woman 's Divorce guide.  Some of these sources of income are in your X's tax returns, so be sure to examine them closely! 

According the the worksheet, the following are sources of income, some of them hidden or not immediately obvious, which you should be aware of when making financial decisions during your divorce:

1.  Accounts Receivable - It could be that your X has not yet reported income for his business because he has made an arrangement with the client to be paid after the divorce.  In such a situation, you would have to proceed with discovery of your X's business to find out if there are any outstanding fees owed;

2.  Accrued vacation or sick time payable in cash - I know this kind of income is particularly available to teachers, but you should check it out in any situation where this might be an issue, particularly if your X has been working with that particular employer for a lengthy period of time;

3.  Bonuses - Many employees receive bonuses around Christmas time and they vary from year to year.  You would want to specifically designate in your agreement what percent of that bonus would be taken into consideration for purposes of child support and alimony;

4.  Capital Gains - If the value of the stock your X owns rises then you would want to know the details of that;

5.  Commissions - Some people work on commission and that would be over and above a base salary that appears on the -W-2 form;

6.  Deferred Compensation - Sometimes there are retirement plans than only become vested after a certain number of years.  You would want full disclosure from your X's employer in order to be informed of these;

7.  Depletion allowance from oil and gas interests;

8.  Depreciation on assets - If you own a rental property for an extended number of years, you would deduct some of that depreciation from capital gains taxes when you sell the property;

9.  Disability benefits;

10.  Dividends - these would be reported on Schedule D of your X's tax returns;

11. Interest Income - This would be reported on Schedule B of your X's tax returns, which, by the way, is a great way to locate your X's bank accounts.  If he has interest free accounts, then you won't be in luck;

12.  Military benefits;

13.  Reimbursement for employment expenses -  This means transportation such as air flights, hotels, rental cars, entertainment, etc.  You would want to check with the employer through to find out what their policy is in regard to employment expenses.  This can amount to a considerable amount of money, so don't overlook it!

14.  Rental property income - For this you would look in Schedule E of your X's tax returns.  Even if mortage and maintenance exceed rental income, it still exists as income, so it should be included;

15.  Retained business earnings - If you X does consultant work of any kind, they would report that income, or should report it on 1099 forms.  Many people simply don't have their clients fill out the 1099s so they can evade the responsibility of reporting their income.  Be aware of that!

16.  Regular Salary;

17.  Social Security Benefits;

18.  Stock and stock options;

19.  Veterans benefits;

20.  Voluntary contributions to pension, retirement or savings plans;

Some ways I saw my X use to hide money was to overpay the taxes to the IRS and keep hidden from me that he was anticipating a large refund check.  Also, he overpaid credit cards so that there was a large credit balance.  The other thing my X did was to put sums of money into small independent banks over a period of time so that it would be difficult to trace them.

For more information check out the following link:

www.moddivorce.com



'

Sunday, April 8, 2012

WHY CLIENTS SHOULD NOT TAKE PSYCHOTHERAPISTS INTO THEIR CONFIDENCE: AN ESSAY BY ATTORNEY JIM GOTTSTEIN

Before you take psychotherapists into your confidence, make sure you consider what the legal consequences might be of doing so. There are legal limits to confidentiality and you might find that your therapist will end up on the stand with his testimony used against you. Attorney Jim Gottstein of Psychrights comments on these issues in the article below. See link:



http://psychrights.org/articles/GottsteinOnConfidentialityInISPSNewsletterMarch2007.pdf

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

COERCIVE CONTROL: HOW MEN ENTRAP WOMEN IN PERSONAL LIFE! REVIEW OF A BOOK BY EVAN STARK!

I am going to provide for you verbatim a description of this book from the Barnes and Noble website.  These are not my words, but the words of the person at Barnes and Noble who wrote the review.  I think everyone concerned about the issues raised by a high conflict divorce, those who have been moved to say "that is my story" when reading Lundy Bancroft's books, should also pay attention to this new book Coercive Control by Evan Stark of Rutgers University.  Please read below:

Despite its great achievements, the domestic violence revolution is stalled, Evan Stark argues, a provocative conclusion he documents by showing that interventions have failed to improve women's long-term safety in relationships or to hold perpetrators accountable.  Stark traces this failure to a startling paradox, that the singular focus on violence against women masks an even more devastating reality.  In millions of abusive relationships, men use a largely unidentified form of subjugation that more closely resembles kidnapping or indentured servitude than assault.  He calls this pattern coercive control.  Drawing on sources that range from FBI statistics and film to dozens of actual cases from his thirty years of experience as an award-winning researcher, advocate, and forensic expert, Stark shows in terrifying detail how men can use coercive control to extend their dominance over time and through social space in ways that subvert women's autonomy, isolate them, and infiltrate the most intimate corners of their lives.  Against this backdrop, Stark analyzes the cases of three women tried for crimes committed in the context of abuse, showing that their reactions are only intelligible when they are reframed as victims of coercive control rather than as battered wives.

The story of physical and sexual violence against women has been told often.  But this is the first book to show that most abused women who seek help do so because their rights and liberties have been jeopardized, not because they have been injured.  The coercive control model Stark develops resolves three of the most perplexing challenges posed by abuse:  why these relationships endure, why abused women develop a profile of problems seen among no other group of assault victims, and why the legal system has failed to win them justice.

Elevating coercive control from a second-class misdemeanor to a human rights violation, Stark explains why law, policy, and advocacy must shift its focus to emphasize how coercive control jeopardizes women's freedom in everyday life.

Fiercely argued and eminently readable, Stark's work is certain to breathe new life into the domestic violence revolution.

See the Amazon.Com link that follows to order your copy of the book:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE (EFT)

I am not a big fan of alternative therapies, but I have been alerted about a technique which has been helpful to folks called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)  Some people say it has helped them a great deal.  It is supposed to reduce stress, expand physical wellbeing, and maintain positive attitudes towards life.  You don't need an expert in order to apply this technique, just follow the directions at the following link:

http://eft.mercola.com/

If you go to this website and apply this technique and find it helpful, please get back to me in the comment section so other people can benefit from this experience, or if not, stay away from it, and let us know about that experience as well.  Thanks!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

PROTECTIVE MOTHERS, UNPROTECTED HEARTS, PART II

So how bad is it when it comes to women and their hearts?  Here are the statistics: 

-According to the American Heart Association, "heart disease is the number one killer of women in America." 

-What is even more interesting is the mortality rate of women to men, "Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women's survival continues to widen." 

-More than 42 million women in the United States are living with some form of cardiovascular disease. 

-Women are less likely than men to receive appropriate treatment after a heart attack.
 
-Also, women make up only 27% of participants in all heart-related research studies.  So treatment protocols are largely experimented with on men and then applied to women, even though it cannot and should not be assumed that what works with men will also work with women. 

So what are the physical indications of heart problems in women?

According to the American Heart Association,
"Heart disease - also called cardiovascular disease - is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.  As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke."

So what can we do to reduce this plaque and reduce our chances of heart attack? 

The Mayo Clinic recommends five medication-free strategies to help prevent heart disease which  are as follows: 

1.  Don't smoke or use tobacco

Smoking can damage your heart and blood vessels leading to the narrowing of the arteries going to your heart (atherosclerosis).  Also, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.  Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood.  This leads to higher blood pressure because then your heart has to work harder to supply enough oxygen.

2.  Exercise for 30 minutes each day

Physical activity can reduce your weight and reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes--conditions which can adversely affect your heart.  And getting exercise doesn't have to be expensive.  Just park your car at a long distance from court so you have to walk to get there!  Walk up and down the staircase in the judicial building!

3.  Eat a heart-healthy diet

This means food that is low in cholesterol and salt.  Eat fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.  Beans and fish such as salmon and mackerel are also good for you.  Avoid processed foods, or pretty much anything purchased in a box.  Have one glass of wine or grape juice a day, and also have a single baby aspirin per day.

4.  Maintain a healthy weight

If it is really hard for you to get out of bed in the morning, if you wheeze and huff when you get up out of a low chair, and if your knees hurt when you have to lift yourself up, you definitely need to lose some of those extra pounds!

5.  Get regular health screenings

Regular blood pressure screenings, blood tests for cholesterol levels, and screenings for diabetes make sense. 

Oh, and always carry a bottle of water with you so you don't get dehydrated! 

Developing a Spiritual Center:  Reducing stress is also vital to heart health, but that is tough to say to protective mothers such as ourselves who face stress every single moment of our lives.  To reduce the effect of stress on our bodies, and most particularly our hearts, we need to learn how to center ourselves spiritually so that we can withstand the wear and tear of ongoing and daily confrontations with the judicial system.  This means developing a relationship with a higher power, adhering to systems of stress reduction such as biofeedback, yoga, or meditation, or whatever helps to nurture our spiritual wellbeing.  Each of us has to find a method that makes sense to us.

There is a book out there with a title that states "Fat is a Feminist Issue".  That's true.  but also, "Heart Health is a Feminist Issue".  Moms, always remember, you are important, not only to yourselves, but also to your children.  Your children are OK as long as you are OK. 

So don't think that everyone else's health comes before your health. Your health comes first.  When you take a flight on an airplane, the stewardess always reminds you that unless you give yourself oxygen first, you may lose consciousness before you can give oxygen to your children.  Likewise, if you don't save your hearts first, you may not live to be able to save your children's.  So start with your hearts first.

Friday, February 10, 2012

PROTECTIVE MOTHERS, UNPROTECTED HEARTS, PART I

It happened just after I filed for divorce.  I was in my kitchen stacking the dishwasher, struggling with thoughts about what would happen to my children, when I found that I was having trouble breathing.  I felt as though my heart was skipping beats, and the blood seemed to slosh back and forth in my veins. 

Immediately, I told a friend who was in the kitchen with me and she drove me to the nearest supermarket where I used one of their public blood pressure machines.  My blood pressure was well off the charts and my pulse was over 100.

In the months and years that followed as my divorce case crawled its way through Family Court and I experienced the roller coaster ride of a custody battle over my children, I continued to make my trips to the supermarket.  Eventually, I began to take blood pressure medication, and thus began my ongoing battle to maintain the health of my heart. 

To be honest, I had never had a serious medical problem until I ended up in family court.  But as soon as the divorce broke out with the accompanying bullying and harassment from my ex, and added to it my fear of what he was willing to do in order to get custody, and what he was willing to do even if he didn't get custody, simply to frighten and horrify me, it was then that I truly discovered what it means to be an ongoing invalid. 

Literally, the custody battle over my children broke my heart.  And, I am sure, it breaks the hearts of numerous other Protective Mothers who literally put their lives on the line in order to save their children. 

I was lucky because I had a few good friends who had also had heart problems, so instead of ignoring the problem I was able to address it immediately.  That is why I am here today able to tell you my story. 

However, even though I was able to obtain blood pressure medication which lowered my risk, I still didn't have a clue regarding how serious the problem was.  Even after the initial warning incident in the kitchen, I continued to ignore my symptoms and mistook them for something else. 

Every once in a while as time went on, I kept on experiencing severe back pain just around my bra area.  And what I thought was that the bra was too tight.  When I took off the bra and still had the pain, I just thought that I had back pain and probably needed to see a chiropractor.  It never occurred to me that what I was experiencing was one of the most prominent symptoms of heart attack.
 
So, to make sure that you don't make the same mistake that I made, let me list for you all the symptoms of heart attack:

1.  Discomfort, tightness, uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or comes and goes;

2.  Crushing chest pain;

3.  Pressure or pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw, or arms;

4.  Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or nausea;

5.  Clammy sweats, heart flutters, or paleness;

6.  Unexplained feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness--especially with exertion;

7.  Heartburn, indigestion, stomach or abdominal pain;

8.  Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing;

9.  An impending sense of doom;

10.  Prolonged pain in the upper abdomen. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the fact that you aren't feeling any pain doesn't mean you don't have a heart problem.  Some women have no symptoms when their hearts aren't functioning, but they are still at risk for the damage to the heart caused by heart problems. 

If you think you might have a heart problem, even if you have the slightest bit of concern, be sure to make an appointment with a cardiologist to check yourself out.  A doctor can give you an EKG (electrocardiogram) to see if you have any heart problems, or else he could do a blood enzyme test or conduct a cardiac stress test (a workout on a treadmill that traces how well your heart is performing). 

And just to emphasize how important it is to do all these tests, my brother in law suspected he might have had a heart attack.  So he went into the hospital and had the EKG and the stress test which indicated everything was normal.  They were all ready to discharge him when they received the results from the enzyme test which indicated that he'd had a heart attack.  They ended up doing surgery and the doctor came out of the operation and said that the veins to my brother in law's heart were 90% blocked. 

So, don't neglect yourself.  Make sure you take your heart health seriously and have yourself checked regularly while you are involved in a custody battle.  If you end up ill and in a hospital unable to function who is going to suffer for that--yes, you, but also your children.  Don't be so focused on your children that you forget that your wellbeing is essential to their wellbeing.  Be good to your heart.  Protect yourselves, Protect your hearts, and by doing so Protect your Children!

Friday, January 13, 2012

ALL ABOUT SUBPOENAS IN CONNECTICUT!

If you are truly being serious as a self represented party, sooner or later you are going to have to send out Subpoenas to obtain your witnesses and documents that you need for trial. 

You know how we are admonished as self represented parties that we are going to be expected to follow all the procedures just the same as lawyers, etc., etc.  That doesn't mean that you have the same rights as lawyers, by any means.  So keep that in mind as you approach the issue of subpoenas. 

I believe that as Citizens of the United States of America we have the constitutional right to bring our witnesses to trial and to subpoena documents to trial.  Perhaps some of my readers who are particularly familiar with constitutional law can comment on this point.  However, if you are self represented, that so called right is somewhat curtailed. 

This means that you can't just fill out a Subpoena and call in your witness and/or demand documents.  To get a Subpoena, you must first fill out an Application for a Subpoena (Form JD-CV-62) and request permission to obtain such a Subpoena from a judge.  If the judge says, "No, you can't have a Subpoena." then you are stuck.  I mean, how successful are you going to be at trial if you aren't allowed to bring in your witnesses or obtain the evidence you need?  Not very successful, I can assure you. 

You would think that obtaining a witness for a trial or in order to conduct a deposition would be approved by judges as a matter of course.  In fact, this is not the case.  I have frequently been turned down when I applied for a Subpoena, and for no good reason as far as I can tell.  Here is some advice on how to go through the process of obtaining a Subpoena so that you are more likely to obtain one. 

Obtain Form JD-CV-62, the Application for a Subpoena, and fill it out completely.  Use only one form per person or per financial institution that you are sending it to.  I know it says that you can put in the names of two people, but don't.  It just causes confusion. 

Under the section where you are supposed to list the names and addresses of the people you are sending your Subpoena to, the form asks you to to finish up the statement "I believe testimony from this person is necessary because..."  Don't just write out a quick answer here of one or two sentences long. 

Instead, write up a formal affidavit explaining who the witness is, what relationship the witness has to the case, what specific information this witness will provide, and explain why this testimony is essential to your case and attach it to your application.  Make this affidavit at least one page long double spaced and typed and then have the affidavit notarized.  You can have this done for free by one of the assistants at the Court Service Center.  You are much more likely to get your application approved if you do this. 

If you submit an application without such an affidavit and you are turned down for a subpoena by the judge, simply resubmit your request with your attached affidavit explaining in detail why you need the Subpoena.  If you did include the affidavit, rewrite it and make it more forceful and again resubmit it. Just because you get turned down once, that is no reason for you to just give up.  When at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again! 

If you are turned down for a Subpoena and the judge continues to deny you that Subpoena, make sure that the case detail reflects that the Subpoena was denied.  I had four Subpoenas which a judge denied and the case detail listed them as "issued". 

You can imagine that when your case comes up for trial, and your own witnesses don't show up in response to Subpoenas that the court has on record were issued you will end up looking extremely bad.  Also, when the Appellate Court reviews your case on appeal, they will say, what's her problem, she got her Subpoenas.  And if the record says you got them, even though you didn't, who is in trouble?  That's right...you! 

So keep your eye on the case detail to be sure the outcome of your application as listed is accurate.  What happened when my Subpoenas were improperly listed as issued, when they were not, is that I spoke to the judge's clerk.  She acknowledged they had not been issued, but because once a statement is put into the case detail, even if wrongly, they aren't able or allowed or desirous of fixing the "mistake" (or what we suspect is a deliberate misrepresentation!) so instead what the clerk did was replace the entry saying the subpoena had been issued with a statement that the subpoena entry had been moved.  I am not sure what that means, but it sounded better than that it had been issued when it hadn't been! 

Can you believe that the Court plays all these games with Self Represented Parties.  You always have to be on your guard with the Court.  

In addition, if the judge refuses to allow you a Subpoena to bring your witnesses to Court, at some point during the trial, remember to make one or two additional requests for Subpoenas for your witnesses during the trial, and object when the Judge denies you the Subpoenas.  That way, not only do you have a written record of that denial in the case detail, you have a transcript indicating you repeated your request for Subpoenas and that you objected when the request was denied.  This will provide a strong record to the Appellate Court indicating that you wanted Subpoenas and you were not silent and that you objected when those Subpoenas were denied.  This is very important when it comes to an appeal.

Once you have filled out the Application for the Subpoena, you then have to fill out the actual Subpoena which gets sent out.  Be sure to write in the date and time of trial or the deposition you are requiring the witness to come to, and remember to put in the telephone number of the ADA Coordinator in your area if the witness may need assistance getting to the Courthouse. 

Once the Subpoena is approved by the judge, it must be hand delivered to the witness by a Marshall (a proper officer or indifferent person), who will then provide certification to the court that the document was physically given to your witness. 

To obtain a Marshall go the Court Service Center or the Trial Clerk's office and obtain a list of available Marshalls.   Such a list is also available online on the Judicial Website.  For your information, a Marshall sits around in the Court Service Center for one hour during lunch and another hour later in the afternoon waiting for litigants who need assistance.  The problem with these particular Marshalls is that sometimes they have a considerable number of documents they need to deliver and they might not get to your subpoena until two or three or even more days after they receive it.  So if you need your subpoena delivered without any kind of delay because your trial is happening soon or you need those documents quickly, I wouldn't use the Marshalls at the Court Service Center.  And you are well within your rights to ask a Marshall when exactly he intends to deliver the Subpoena. 

You will receive confirmation that the Marshall delivered the Subpoena in the mail, and he will also put a confirmation in your court file. 

The cost of a Marshall is variable or negotiable depending upon how you strike him.  If he thinks you are rich, you can go as high as $70.00, but if you come across as less wealthy, you can pay around $40.00 or so.  Usually the Marshall at the Court Service Center charges less.  Otherwise, if you are truly desperate and can't afford these charges, you can apply for a Fee Waiver.  For further information regarding Subpoenas, check the judicial website at:

http://www.jud.ct.gov/forms/grouped/civil/subpoena.htm

Saturday, September 10, 2011

WHEN FISH START TO STINK, YOU CAN SMELL THEM ANYWHERE!

I always believe in going with my gut, and when my gut tells me that there is something fishy about a person I'm usually right. That's why if I keep on getting that little nudge from inside telling me I should check up on someone, I usually follow it. 

There are several ways to get information on people in the judicial system.  One way is to drop by the various support groups for domestic violence held around the state.  It is within those groups that all the gossip takes place about different judges and lawyers, GALS, and mental health professionals. Some of my best conversations about lawyers, judges, and shrinks and what they are up to have taken place within those groups. 

 Members of these groups swap experiences and elaborate on all the details you might have missed about a particular lawyer or judge or mental health professional, unhampered by the obstacles of convention and the presumption of respect for a professional.  Once you have been threatened and/or tortured either emotionally or physically and have watched your attorney or judge make fun of your attempts to obtain the protection you need all that respect disappears really quickly. 

One way to obtain information about attorneys is to look up their case load on the judicial website at:  http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/.  If you review these cases online, you can get a good overview of the kinds of cases your attorney takes on and find out what happened in each of those cases. The case details (list of all pleadings and rulings in a case) will be available online and in many of the civil cases you can actually view the documents in a case online. 

If you are unable to obtain those documents online, you can then go to the clerk's office in family or civil court and request any files that you want.  The majority of case files are readily available to the public upon request. 

The other thing that you can do is use the internet to locate the contact information of litigants who have been represented by a particular lawyer.  Once you have these litigants on the phone, you have a good chance of asking questions which will provide further detail about that lawyer.  As I have said, if an attorney is doing it to you, he is most likely doing it to everyone else.  If a judge is doing it to you, all the way down the line, that judge is probably doing it to everyone else.  If a mental health professional is doing it to you, he is most likely doing it to others. 

Don't just check the judicial website, also make sure you investigate the records of the Statewide Grievance Committee which are also online and see if any of the attorneys who wrecked your case, wrecked other people's cases.  You'd be amazed at the information you will find out about what these scummy lawyers have done to other people just like you.  

And don't forget google.  I recently typed the name of a therapist I had a few decades ago onto google and found out that he had been involved in medicare fraud.  That really blew my mind.  I mean, here I had spent several years in therapy with this person and it turned out that he was a common criminal.  Really, think about it, how many of these white collar criminals are out there along with my old therapist.  I'll tell you now---a whole lot of them! 

When I was observing Judge Herbert Barall during my visits to the courthouse and saw how outrageously he behaved, all I had to do was google him on the internet to find out that he had a history of behaving outrageously in the Wiegand/Wilkerson case. 

Really, evil behavior is addictive.  People who indulge in vicious criminal behavior will never be able to do it just once.  So look around, ask around, check the internet, go to meetings, talk to people, check in the clerk's office, follow the stinky trail straight to the fish bodies.  At the very least, you will meet your suffering comrades in arms, and at the very best, you will have found others who will validate your experience and strengthen your resolve to fight on and achieve success in your case and change the system for the better.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

DO IT YOURSELF DISCOVERY RE REAL ESTATE

In the final days before the dissolution of my marriage and the crummy financial agreement I got stuck with my attorney insisted that I get an expert to do a title search regarding the real estate in my case.  That must have cost me around $400.00 or more. 

Before you get pulled into this kind of nonsense consider doing the title search yourself!

All you have to do is look up the land records for the particular town you live on by googling online.  So if you live in Farmville, for instance, you would type Farmville Land Records into the search engine and hit return.  Once you have gotten to the land records for the town you live in, all you then have to do is type your name or your soon to be X's name into the search engine and include the timeframe you are considering. 

Anything and everything related to real estate and your X and you will be listed on the land records.  This means that the title deed to your home, any mortgage documents, release from mortgage documents, liens, will all be there. 

Next, if you click on view next to any particular document, you will see that a copy of the document is available online--most towns have scanned them all into their computers--and you can then print out a copy of your own, all without even leaving your house, or the library, wherever you do you work. 

You can pretty much get good copies of these documents from any town or city in the entire United States wherever you think either you or your X may own real estate.  Doing this yourself saves you the money you might have to spend to have someone do it for you. 

There is another reason why a search of this kind is helpful. Many men siphen money out of the marriage by taking out mortgages without the knowledge of their wives.  In the sixteen years of my marriage, my X took out or attempted to take out as much as one or two mortgages per year.  There is no way to track those mortgages if your X didn't tell you about them except through examining the mortgage documents listed in the land records. 

At least if you review the land records you can find out which mortgage companies your X made applications to and you can find out how much money he borrowed.  Once you have that information you can then subpoena the mortgage companies for the mortgage applications which include even more financial information which could be helpful to you in tracking down hidden assets or simply confirming the accuracy of what you know already. 

Not only can you get the names of the mortgage companies, you can get the names of the lawyers who were involved in the transactions and also the names of the mortgage company representatives, so you have the names of people who could really help you with your inquiries. 

These records generally go back at least two or three decades or more, so you can obtain a substantial amount of information from them.  For those of us whose X's have kept us completely in the dark regarding financial matters, a review of these documents can be truly revelatory.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

HOW TO GET THE HELP YOU NEED. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK.

A few years ago when I was in the middle of the worst of my divorce, I got out of bed in the morning, went into the bathroom and started the shower and dangled my fingers in the cold spray and waited for the water to warm up, and waited, and waited some more.

As it turned out, if I wanted hot water that day, I could have waited forever.  You see, there was this little problem with my furnace.  It had run out of oil.  Since I couldn't afford to buy any more, but I still had some play left on my electric bill, I pulled out all of my electric heaters and placed them strategically around the house. 

On another day, I was watching TV and all of a sudden it went dead.  Then I went to the bathroom and flipped the light switch on, but the room remained dark.  Oops, it turned out that the electric company I had been stringing along with a small payment here and a small payment there had finally gotten sick and tired off me and cut off the juice. This meant that for a while, the kids and I were positively old fashioned lighting up the house with a multitude of candles. 

For the children, those days were full of adventure, days when they all slept companionably in one room so that I could save money on heating, days when they ran around playing tag in a darkened home because there wasn't enough money for electricity. 

In contrast, for me, these were days of horror as I imagined what the GAL would say or the judge would say if they had any idea that my children were living in these conditions.  Now in a world of common sense, such people would immediately demand that father pay more child support, but in the world that we live in, the world in which abusers reign supreme, a situation of this kind simply represented an opportunity for those involved in our case to prove that I shouldn't have custody of my children because I wasn't responsible enough to pay my bills. 

So what could I do in a situation where I had an electric bill of over one thousand dollars that CLP demanded I pay in full before they would restore power to my house?  

One answer is Town Social Services.  In my particular case, I went to town social services and they paid the entire bill, cutting out the check, and making personal phone calls to make sure that once the money had been paid everything would be put back in order and the electricity restored.  At the same time, they connected me with programs that would be able to give me further assistance for the future. 

Another is the church or temple:  One good friend of mine temporarily lost child support for a few months, and so what did she do?  She went to Catholic Charities in Hartford and filled out an application to cover the cost of her mortgage.  Not only the Catholic Church, but also many other denominations and faiths maintain funds which are intended for average folk who find themselves in need of emergency money, and you don't have to be indigent to get it, just reasonably respectable.  

How about food banks, the ones you contributed to in better times?  Also, keep in mind that most communities have some sort of food bank or else they will know where free food gets passed out with a minimal amount of questions asked. 

Also, keep in mind that school systems have free lunch programs for those at or below the poverty level, and many of us are put right at that point by inadequate support orders judges often put into place during the pendente lite period. So do not assume you are not eligible just because your ex makes a good salary; what he makes has nothing to do with what you are getting, and what you are getting and supporting yourself with is what you report. 

As the word spreads that you need help, more people will come to you either offering you their personal assistance or providing you with more suggestions on how to get your needs met as well as that of children.  There is a safety net, but you have to go out there and find it.  This is not to say that there are always solutions to the problems, but it is worth your time to find the ones that are out there.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

COURT FILE MANAGEMENT

As you may know, I talk to quite a few people about family court and often end up having folks talk to me about their cases.  Sometimes, if a case interests me enough, with the permission of the person involved, I might end up looking at the court file for a particular case.  Which leads me to this particularly important point: Make sure that you have an exact copy of everything that is in your file. 

What do I mean by the court file?  According to the 2011 Practice Book 7-1 the clerks are required to keep a record of all pending cases, including applications and petitions made to the court, together with a record of each paper filed and order made or judgment rendered therein, with the date of such filing, making or rendition.  The record of your pending case is what is known as your court file.  What is in this court file is sometimes referred to as what is in the record or on the record. 

The court file includes whatever documents your attorney sends to the court and/or whatever documents your attorney receives from the opposing attorney which was sent to court.  It also includes court orders. 

You should have your own personal copy of all these documents. Also, always get copies of the court orders that the clerks put in your file, because if you don't see the exact wording of the order, you may not entirely understand it, and if you don't fully understand it, you may not require that your X obey it, or you might just inadvertently disobey it yourself. 

Also, sometimes orders can be worded in ways that you might interpret differently than your own attorney or the opposing attorney interprets it, or the judge could provide explanations in writing on the order which provide insight into the judge's intentions. If you understand the order differently than other parties to the case, or you have trouble understanding it at all, you need an exact copy of the order so that you can obtain further clarification either from your lawyer or the court.  Without an exact copy of what is in your file, you cannot expect to be on top of what is going on in your case. 

This leads me to my next point, which is, most divorce cases in Connecticut, particularly high conflict divorces, take at least a year or more to resolve.  Since this is true, always make sure that you go personally to the courthouse every couple of months and review the documents that have been placed in your file. 

There are two reasons for doing this.  One, I know this is against the rules, but every once in a while the opposing attorney could be tempted to slip something into the file without giving you a copy of it. Two, every once in while your own attorney could be too lazy or avoidant to send you a copy of documents he or she receives and/or sends.  Unless you personally review your court file, you are not going to find out about it. 

Plus, every once in a while a judge or a clerk might just scribble a few words on a document or court order that will provide some explanation of the thinking in your case that is going on in court.  Another consideration you should keep in mind is that sometimes clerks will simply fail to include a document that you have submitted to court.  This may just happen with self represented parties like me, but even so, you want to be sure that all documents relevant to your case which you submitted in good faith and believed were in the record are, indeed, in the record. 

A good way to make sure that everything that should be there, is there, is to print out the case detail from the judicial website:  http://www.jud2.ct.gov/.  The case detail is the listing of all documents that have been submitted to the court in your case along with the individual number provided for each document.  Match all the documents listed on the case detail with the documents you have in your file.  This is helpful because whenever you refer to these documents in any motions you submit to the court later on, you can use those numbers as an additional means to identify them.  Also, if you have more documents in your possession that you have submitted to court than you have numbers, you can be alerted immediately to any problems with clerks not listing your motions in the file. 

Finally, it is important to think about what kind of impression does this file, your file, convey regarding the kind of person that you are?  Remember, sometimes the first impression a judge will get of your case will arise solely from the opportunity he or she has to review your file.  And first impressions are often indelible. 

Are there any unanswered accusations that should be responded to?  Make note of that as something that should be addressed at a later time.  Has your attorney stated that he or she filed certain documents, but you can't find them in the court file.  Again, this is something to make note of and bring up with your attorney.  Is there anything in the file that could compromise you in any way if seen out of context?  Make note of that as well and plan on providing the appropriate context. 

They say that the devil is in the details.  Make sure he isn't in YOUR case detail!