I was an emotional wreck and made many mistakes during the divorce process. How can I fix them?

Question:Cordell & Cordell attorney Andrea Miller

When I got divorced I was a wreck and did not know that I had to file a response to my wife’s petition. I had no money, no access to our accounts because she took my name off them, couldn’t afford a lawyer, and missed court dates.

She got everything; full custody, the marital home, the 401K, the bank accounts, child support payments, and the ability to allow visitation at her discretion, which she isn’t allowing me. In short, I have no money and extremely limited visitation access to my children because of my earlier mistakes. What should I do?


Unfortunately, I do not practice in California and therefore my analysis will focus on North Carolina law and how North Carolina may deal with the issue.

There are a couple of options in North Carolina. You could file a modification and/or a relief from judgment. In North Carolina, for modification of custody/support you have to prove a substantial change of circumstances. Once again, I am not licensed to practice law in California so I am unsure of what California requires for a modification to occur.

In North Carolina, there is also recourse in asserting a “relief from judgment” motion (rule 60 in the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure). There are six factors, and if found, it could relieve a party from a final judgment. However, I am again unsure what California’s law is with regard to asserting this motion.

My advice to you would be to hire a lawyer in California to help you with your case.  Since funds are limited perhaps you can acquire a lawyer pro-bono or contact a service that focuses on helping individuals with limited funds. Be advised that my answering of this question does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Andrea Miller is a Staff Attorney in the Charlotte, N.C., office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Miller is licensed in the state of North Carolina. Ms. Miller received her undergraduate degree in History and her Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  While in law school, she on the Client Counseling Team for Moot Court and became a board member. Ms. Miller also participated in UNC’s Legal Assistance Clinic whereby she helped represent indigent clients obtain legal counsel primarily in the area of domestic relations.

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