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Cover Your Behind or You Might Lose It

She called crying. Her husband figured out that she was having an affair. He’s freaking out, of course.

He’s been acting out. He’s doing all the crazy things you’ve seen people do. I won’t bother elaborating: you can fill in the blanks.

She’s angry at him and has somehow forgotten that it was her affair that triggered this situation.

She needs an attorney quickly, as he’s threatening to file a lawsuit.

She comes in for a meeting and he has, in fact, filed the civil action he threatened. She’s facing a 30-day deadline to respond.

We explain what we can do, tell her how much it’s going to cost, and detail the process for getting started.

She says she needs to think about it. She clearly doesn’t want to commit to paying our fee.

Then she disappears for a week or two. The clock is ticking.

We email her and remind her that the deadline for filing a response is approaching. She explains that he has calmed down. In fact, he now has a girlfriend and wants to get this settled. His attorney, the one who filed the lawsuit, is drafting an agreement.

We explain, again, that the time to respond is running and she needs to act. We put it in writing, again.

A few weeks later, she calls and asks us to review the draft agreement. We schedule an appointment, and she comes in.

The agreement is one-sided and needs some changes in order for us to advise her to sign it. She doesn’t want to pay us to negotiate the deal. She’d rather do it on her own.

While she was visiting us, we realized that she’d failed to file a response to the lawsuit and she hasn’t requested any sort of extension. She’s in default.

We advised her as to what’s wrong with the agreement and what changes she needs to seek. We’re again writing her a letter making it clear that we advise against signing the existing agreement.

She’s a mess. She’s screwing this up, and she’s not going to be able to fix it. At every step in the process, we’ve advised her as to how to proceed. She ignored each piece of advice.

We’ve got a nice little file documenting our advice. We’re covered. Make sure you are as well.

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Lee Rosen

Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than twenty years. With four offices, Rosen Law Firm serves Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rosen served as the Law Practice Management Editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Keane Award for excellence in eLawyering. He served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, is a frequent speaker and is often sought out by the media as a source of family law insight and commentary.