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Need legal help I'm pro se Illinois

Its been a while since I've been on these boards and I need some legal help ASAP.  Spaz, Mike, Freedome fighter anyone (maybe some newbies).  My divorce was messy and now post divorce is messy.  I am representing myself pro se (for now) because we spent $156K and 3 1/2 years in the courts trying to get a divorce and I am frankly out of money.


My ex is suppose to pay 45% of the children's reimburseable medical, etc.  He did not pay a dime in 2011.  I sent him email copies of the bills and receipts.  In some cases I was able to send the estimated portion prior to the children recieving care.  A no brainer right?  so I filed a petition for rule attaching copies of all the bills and proof of payment in December 2011.  We had our hearing in January and the friend of the court who wrote the court order read my petition and said it was very well written and better than what a lot of lawyers produced.  So I went to our hearing pretty confident.  My ex never filed the appropriate response (within 21 days of my motion) nor did he provide his financial info (5 days prior to our hearing).  Instead he shows up with a lawyer and a counter petition for rule that was filed that day.  It seems the judge doesn't respect pro se (wish I could afford an attorney) litigants because he refused to hear my petition and stated we would hear both petitions along with my petition for child support on 4/24/12 (2 months from now).   His attorney's petition is frivilous and non fact based.  But the judge moved forward with no evidence.  I am contemplating getting an attorney (don't know where I will find money for the retainer), but would like to get my response mostly done before meeting with them in an attempt to cut down the costs of him/her preparing it.


Anyway, my petition states that he was tendered the bills for the children and didn't pay including copies of all the bills.


There petition for rules states that I:

never tendered bills for our house and the house has been foreclosed on.  I did tender the bills (and I have copies) that in good faith I paid all the bills for one month without receiving his portion 7 days in advance as court ordered and that he never reimbursed me the money I paid nor did he ever provide payment 7 days in advance.  I know my bad for not continuing to pay mortgage without his 50% in advance.  I did talk to my attorney at the time and he told me not to pay that it was simple contract law.  Without his reimbursement which was to occur prior to my payment I was not obligated to pay.  Is there case law to support that I can reference in my response?  I will be included in my response copies of emails where I sent him all the bills 7 days in advance.  I even have a hand written note from him where he tried to reduce the bills by adding things that were not in the agreement.  I do need to mention that his name was not on our mortgage so he was not harmed in anyway by the foreclosure.  Not sure if that is relevant here.  They are asking the court that I pay his legal fees and not hold him not liable for the mortgage deficiency.  The house has already been foreclosed on and I filed bankruptcy, his name is not on the mortgage so the mortgage company did not go after him for any deficiency.


There next claim is that I did not provide timely proof of payment.  Again in my petition for rule I attached all of the emails where I sent copies of every bill and proof of payment.  Some were 30 days after the event becuase it does take time for checks to clear.  Our MSA does not state any timeframe for parent who made the payment to provide proof.  It only states that the other parent must reimburse parent 7 days after receiving the proof. She is aksing the court that he not have to pay medical expenses because I did not provide proof.  I am completely baffeled that the judge didn't strike that down right away. All my proof was attached in my petition.  But, is there case law that states what is the statutue of limitations to ask for reimbursement (or a state standard)?  Is there any case law that says he shouldn't have to pay if it is not received within a certain period of time?  They are again asking that I pay his legal fees because I failed to provide proof of payment within a timely fashion.  I will be attaching all the email correspondence that shows I sent it to him. 


The third count of their petition is that I signed the kids up for activities on his parenting time that he did not agree to.  Our parenting agreement states that I will consult with him and if we can't agree I make the decision or we mediate.  I sent him copies of all registration prior to the due date.  He never responded prior to the due date.  Then in one case 3 months after the registration deadline he responds back with he disagrees.  I sent him emails offereing to mediate and suggest alternatives to give him the same parenting time.  They are asking that I pay his legal fees because I signed them up without his consent.


Finally they are asking that I pay his legal fees and give him two extra days of make up parenting time because I took summer vacation in 2011.  It states in our parenting agreement that we each get 21 days and can be broken up in 2 or 3 segments none of which can be longer than 14 days.  I only took 15 days the entire summer so I'm not sure where they are coming from on this but apparently I should be paying his legal fees as a result.


Anyway, any relevant case law on any of these issues would be greatly appreciated.  Or if you know any good attorneys that could shut them down in court who I could work with would be AWESOME.  We are in Lake county illinois.



by ct1894   84 Posts 
Posted on 2/26/2012 10:01 AM
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Answers for "Need legal help I'm pro se Illinois"  (6) (You must be logged in to answer)

Carrie-   You seem to have your ducks in a row legally.   But, I would still look into a lawyer to help you present your case.   You have legitimate concern with the fact that you may be overlooked or misunderstood.   And let's be honest,  unfortunately, ignored without one representing you.   I do not know your financial position.   But,  if your in finacial hardship you can seek legal aid.   If they are unable or unwilling to take on the case.  I know from experience, that if you call attorney's and discuss the dilema of finances that some will take on the case for almost nothing in retainer or even pro bono.   They may even ask for just timely payments or a precentage of, or money from any settlement.  Likewise,   they can ask the court the same as your ex's attorney has...In the end,   if you are having issues getting your child support or settlement now.   You will definitely still have problems later.    Make this as simple as you can by asking them to garnish his payroll through the enforcement agency.   (If you need the # for them  me let me know)  I went through the enforcement agency without the assistance of the court.    And if he owes enough back to you,  his income taxes will be withheld from him and given to you till he comes current.
by freedomfighter   646 Posts
Posted on 2/27/2012 8:16 PM

Spaz's reply makes me feel much better about your situation.  So the judge was really just giving you time to respond to your ex's last-minute filing.  Not dissing you for being pro se, and not evaluating either petition because you didn't have time to refute his. So, "nothing personal."

Regarding the requirement to communicate via email--I believe the intent here is not to communicate by phone or text or child-messenger.  So that you have at least some written word to go by.  I do not believe it was intended to prevent you from sending a letter certified mail.

The thing I've never understood about certified mail is, if they sign for it that only proves they got *a* letter. They can still argue it didn't contain what you say it contained.  For example that the orthodontist bill wasn't there, just the pediatrician's.
by mike1493   3673 Posts
Posted on 2/27/2012 8:54 AM

Wow. Your ex is a bigger idiot and jerk than mine is! They ALWAYS want to pay less, and then blame you for everything that has gone wrong. Just hang in there and do as Spaz says.........Zen Hugs
by worried2tears   2308 Posts
Posted on 2/26/2012 4:33 PM

Mike & Spaz thanks for the quick replies.  I knew even after all this time that I could count on you guys.

and as an FYI our settlement agreement and parenting agreement state we will communicate via email.  I actually have responses that he sent me in reply to my emails that he is now claiming he never received.  So he can't really argue that he didn't get them.  Well he can argue that, but I have proof that he at least got some of them.  I will be asking the court that we communicate via a court monitored website or through some court monitored service.  If they want us to communicate via certified mail I am going to ask that he be solely responsible for the costs.  Not sure if I will get that, but I am going to ask.

and I was thinking about having an attorney read over my response before I send it.

Thanks again,

by ct1894   84 Posts
Posted on 2/26/2012 4:26 PM

first - asking for legal fees is standard practice, only awarded (sometimes) if that person wins their argument. If you had a attorney, the same thing would be added...don't stress over it. It won't be awarded.

Second, the reason the judge continued the case was NOT because you are pro se - it is standard procedure to a) give you time to respond properly to his filing and b) have the similar cases heard at the same time. This benefits you really, so make sure you respond to his filing  - even if it means duplicating what you put in yours.

case law doesn't apply to this - it's simply a matter of facts. Did you send him the bills, yes. Does your evidence prove you sent them timely, yes. Did he pay them, no. You are covered.

When it comes down to it, his filings only real issue is the summer vacation time. If any of those days were on what would have been his time....and your notification was last minute, he has a right to take issue - if you handled it like you handle the bills...it was just "something else" to add...

honestly, I think his attorney knows you will win this, it's pretty clear in your filing what they filed on (with the exception of the summer days) is already answered and proven to be false. Think he is just humoring your ex (and taking his money). Attorneys do that on occasion, take advantage of pure stupidity.

Just make sure you respond to his petition....

oh and in the future, don't just count on email. People can use excuses like, I blocked them due to harassment, it must have gone to spam...etc...send things like this via certified mail with a signature required as back up. So A) it is signed for or b) it is refused and sent back to you, proof of ignoring a direct court order.
by spaznskitz   11339 Posts
Posted on 2/26/2012 12:02 PM

For the actual legal questions, I'll defer to spaznskitz.

The only way that I'm the least bit qualified to answer this question is, I was pro se as well.  It worked out ok but only because I knew exactly what I was willing to give, it was generous to my ex, and I was perfectly willing to let the judge decide if they didn't agree.  My divorce was final 6 months and a few days after she filed.  I spent maybe $50 on filing fees; she spent thousands for a lawyer and ended up with exactly what I offered to start with.

Obviously, that is not your situation.

I do know that the other side asking for legal fees is absolutely standard.  And that it is not usually awarded--it is mostly to push back at frivolous or harassing claims.  It is intended to scare you off.  The idea is to make it so expensive for you to get money out of him, that you decide it's cheaper to pay the medical bills than pay lawyer fees.

Now, you seem pretty knowledgable about your situation.  But none of us can say how much leeway your judge will give you as pro se.  Some I think take it easy on them, some refuse to hand-hold.  So even if you are right on the facts, if you slip up in procedure you could end up paying their fees and not getting what you are asking for.

I hate bullies.  So I tend to advocate that you don't give up.  Get a lawyer if you can afford it somehow (even if it's just for one hour to review your paperwork), or go ahead pro se if you really can't.  Don't take the delay as a sign you don't have a case--granting a delay is a fairly neutral decision.  But do be careful.
by mike1493   3673 Posts
Posted on 2/26/2012 10:31 AM

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