I believe I was misled by firm Kristin Zurek personnel August 2012 who told me I could expect a 60% property distribution in a divorce in which the other spouse committed marital misconduct. When meeting on or before 8/16/2012, I provided Kristen Zurek all the details of the misconduct that happened and was assured I'd be victorious in getting the lions share of marital assets at 60%. After engaging the firm and paying $10,000+ in fees and retainers, the attorney assigned to my case William J. Halaz III began backstroking on the probability of me getting a 60% distribution and hence the divorce ended up with me only getting a 50% distribution. Obviously this specific firm and staff must have some statistical data on marital misconduct cases to backup the assertion that their typical marital misconduct cases result in a 60% asset distribution to their clients. It appears that I was provided misleading information simply for the purposes of signing an engagement letter to hire the firm with high expectations and little actual results. At 50,000 feet it seems apparent to me now that the Missouri courts could care less if marital misconduct was evident, the marital estate will generally be divided 50/50, so where does Cordell & Cordell get justification to exclaim 60/40 asset divisions in cases of marital misconduct? improper advertising
Furthermore, the 10 commandments of the firm were violated in that #7 states that I will receive timely copies of correspondence created or reviewed in the case. I did not receive 100% of such items and often was simply sent an email from Christianna Arnold-Travers that case correspondence was just received and if I wanted to request copies, the correspondence would then be provided to me. Why do I have to request this material information when it is required to be provided to me without any action on my behalf? This exposed me to significant risk. HOW was I to defend myself in trial against documents OC would present to me without having any idea of what they might have regarding my personnel files and such? I've never seen my personnel files but they were subpoenaed by OC and they had them in their war chest and I was uninformed of what might be presented during deposition and at trial, because I never received copies of the correspondence OC had from Cordell & Cordell staff. neglect of legal matters
Furthermore, the case appeared to be grossly mishandled from the start all the way to the finish. There were numerous missteps on my behalf by my attorney that put me and my children in harms way. For gods sake, my wife was taken to jail during the trial 6/19/2013 for attempting to bring a loaded pistol into the courtroom without a CCW permit. It never occurred for William Halaz my attorney to protect me and my children from death with a restraining order or ex parte and she returned home to our residence later that night with unknown intentions as me and my children lie asleep. Furthermore, the trial should have continued despite her going to jail, but my attorney just rolled over and volunteered to postpone the trial resulting in yet more concessions of assets from my distribution and yet more legal fees for another day of trial. I was under the impression if a spouse fails to show up for divorce trial, they forfeit and the other spouse gets what they want? I was not given this opportunity since the trial was postponed. I paid a premium price for substandard legal service. neglect of legal matters. Furthermore, I received a text message from Mr. Halaz 6/19/2013 3:49 p.m. stating "ha ha, you'll be happy to know everyone at the office has gotten a kick out of that story" breach of confidentiality. I'm glad to see the firm had a laugh but never thought about protecting me and my children from a gun carrying spouse with an axe to grind who returned home to us that night. Nice.
I requested information from the firm regarding malpractice insurance carrier and was declined any information by Stacey Carlton of Cordell & Cordell.
The firm failed to be structurally organized in preparing me as a client for deposition by not alerting me to common inquiries like children birthdays, teacher names, coach names, etc making me stumble and look like an idiot when involved in a custody battle. inadequate communication
Rock Kessler was engaged as an expert witness to ascertain my income potential and my spouses since his expertise was financial employment as a recruiter, but William Halaz only registered/filed him as an expert to ascertain my spouses income and not mine leaving me no defense at the trial in court. Kessler's opinion was that my income would be $55,000 per year considering my criminal history, but since Mr. Halaz filed him so narrowly as a witness to the wifes income only, he could not be admitted to defend OC position that my income should be $70,000 per year and as a result I'm paying more child support than I can afford. Furthermore, Mr. Halaz failed to ask Mr. Kessler for his opinion on my income potential during the deposition leaving me defenseless at trial which resulted in an overstatement of my income calculated by OC. neglect of legal matters. Furthermore OC and spouse alleged $20,000 of unreported income was received by the business but Mr. Halaz never requested specifics regarding who, what, when, how much to support such a ridiculous assertion, but this frivolous amount was used to project my income potential as calculated by OC. neglect of legal matters
Mr. Halaz said I could do my business valuation and failed to engage an independent expert witness for valuation of my business and instead, relied upon my finance background in auditing to challenge OC as an impartial witness/expert. How can I be an expert at trial attesting to my business valuation, when I've never done a business valuation and I'm not independent? That's ridiculous. OC engaged a seasoned CPA professional, and as a result, we had to file for a motion/late entry of an expert Robert Offerman of Hochschild Bloom and Co and I incurred additional legal fees to get the judge to allow him as an expert after the submission deadline and defend OC opposition to strike Offerman only because Mr. Halaz failed in his duties to protect my best interest by listing a qualified expert other than myself. It was like expecting a personal injury lawyer (Me) to defend a lawsuit regarding a patent case(my business valuation). neglect of legal matters
Mr. Halaz wanted to subpoena work records from the wifes prior employer Fidelity Mortgage from 8 years ago. I advised him that I would provide him with the current address of Fidelity Mortgage since the firm had moved several times but instead of waiting to get the address from me, he sent a subpoena to an address from a 2004 Form W-2 which was undeliverable and I was charged $187 for several failed attempts to deliver the subpoena to an invalid address more than once. I requested a refund and was declined. neglect of legal matters
OC Michael Schechter filed a motion to suppress a change in judges and according to Mr. Halaz OC misstated the law and was baseless and hence he would request reimbursement of legal fees to defend since it was baselesss, but Mr. Halaz never refunded me the legal costs to appear in court 11/14/2012 for the matter after its dismissal, despite his assertion I would be fully reimbursed all costs. It appears Mr. Halaz confronted OC and advised him of his error, and OC withdrew is motion, but yet I incurred the legal cost without any reimbursement. Mr. Halaz let the cat out of the bag. neglect of legal matters
In June 2013 I went to Mr. Halaz office to sign affidavits for final filings of my statement of assets. I signed the sheet which had an attaching excel spreadsheet, but Mr. Halaz changed amounts on the statement after I signed it regarding a wedding ring, household window treatments and other items marking them as both non-marital property and/or significantly undervalued in contrast to what I believed I was filing with the court and he never advised me of his changes until I noticed them after filing with the court. He should have alerted me to his changes so that I could have had input. When I questioned him on the changes, he said it was just better to go along with OC figures than to argue it. I still disagree considering the wedding ring was a replacement paid for with marital funds. inadequate communication.
In June 2013, Mr. Halaz advised me that he would subpoena one of the affair partners of my wife Rick DuBose to appear at the trial in order to leverage a settlement by the spouse. I told him I agree to the strategy, but Mr. Halaz never followed thru on the plan and did not subpoena Mr. Dubose resulting in more concessions of assets from my pool of property. neglect of legal matters
The firms software was outdated and not compliant with the data I provided them regarding schedules, appraisals, etc.. and resulted in me incurring additional legal fees for his assistant to convert/recreate my work for listing as exhibits for trial.
Spouse received $1,000,000+ in property, stocks, mutual funds, cash, estate property, etc but her Schedule 14 had zero income despite the income she is and has been receiving over the years from investments and would be earning more after adding liquid assets from her deceased mothers estate. Having NO investment income on her Form 14 resulted in me paying more child support than required. neglect of legal matters
At the end of trial day on 6/21/2013 we were to divide all bank accounts 50/50 and I informed Mr. Halaz that the spouse still had $10,000 in an account to pay for legal fees and since it was still there and unspent I'd get 50% of it. It appears that Mr. Halaz then informed OC of the situation which resulted in a specific exclusion of that money from distribution. This resulted in a loss of $5,000 from my assets and directly related to my assertion that Mr. Halaz notified OC of the unspent $. It seems Mr. Halaz chose OC and the respondent over his client interests. breach of confidentiality neglect of legal matters
I did not waive my rights at deposition and at trial there was no notarized signature on depositions so how is that supposed to be admissible to defend my case at trial.
My criminal background report was inadmissible because a certified copy was not requested for court, resulting in my income potential to be overstated because this mishap and Halaz narrow filing of the expert witness, caused my child support calculation to be overstated.
Opposing counsel alleged I had $20,000 of unreported income that was added to my income potential for child support but Halaz never requested documented proof of this allegation by my wife who was a 50% business partner. My Halaz was in agreement that my income potential was less than $40,000 before trial, but we were forced to consent to $70,000 of income because we had no defense since my background report could not be used nor our expert.
My parenting plan states that I am responsible for 55% of college tuition for my children. Mr Halaz never informed me that college tuition was unenforceable in MO and now I have a huge potential liability for college tuition that I oppose to. Had I been advised that it was optional and not enforceable, I'd never had agreed to being responsible for it.
Halaz also encouraged me with regards to alimony, to pay a lump sum payment of $24k tax free to the Ex-wife which is fine, but I did'nt get a credit on child support as a result and her monthly income was therefore understated by $1,000 per month. I was never informed by Mr. Halaz of the child support consequences of that decision.
Furthermore, I have my kids 35.6% of the time overnight and I'm only getting credit on my child support of 10% for overnight stays. That is grossly unfair and I'd never had signed off on the divorce had I known that then.