Angels, this may sound familiar to many of you...

To the Editor:

On Feb. 12, 2011, Jason Laday wrote: “Woman: Reduced alimony made me homeless.”
Most family law attorneys and others who deal with family case law will recognize the 1996 state Appellate Court decision Milner v Milner. I am that woman!

I am in law books. And since 1996 women in New Jersey who try to become economically self-sufficient and prove they cannot, receive permanent alimony and move forward to live safe, financially secure lives.
In his article, Jason Lady further quotes: “In Aug. 10, 2007, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Testa, JSC granted Milner’s husband’s request to reduce alimony and other relief.”

Laday also quoted the NJ Appellate Court’s December 2008 decision:

“We can appreciate that the trial judge may have been frustrated with Milner’s counsel, but in this context it was a mistaken exercise of the court’s discretion to punish (Milner) for her counsel’s error,” ruled the court. “Accordingly, we reverse the order of Oct. 5, 2007, and we remand this matter to the trial court with direction to reconsider the merits of the Aug. 10, 2007, order giving (Milner) an opportunity to file her opposition to the alimony reduction motion on which that Order was based.” 

The paradox is I CANNOT! Lawyers tell me they want to represent me but they want retainer monies in advance. I will sign a retainer agreement but I do not have money for retainer fees. I paid retainer money to an attorney, but he did not appear in court and I lost.

I lost everything I worked for and saved my entire adult life. I do not have any money. I cannot pay rent, buy food, repair my car, purchase clothing, pay for health care, my list of what I “cannot” do to live is long and endless.

The good news is after 51 months of financial deprivation (since Aug. 10, 2007, the day my then-attorney failed to appear in court on my behalf) I have the attention of the Family Court in Bridgeton. My case has been re-opened.

Milner v Milner has a long, complicated history. I am in a bind and I need legal help. You lose in family court when self-represented! I am self-represented! I cannot afford to lose! My life is at risk!

I prefer an attorney who is outside of Bridgeton, Vineland and Salem areas — it is simply to close. I have tried. It does not work. I want an attorney who is aggressive, prominent, truthful and ethical, pays attention to detail, with integrity and has a kind heart.

I am a well-respected artist in our tri-state area. I do not know enough law to represent myself. I will lose.

Something in the South Jersey legal system is severely broken when a bit of retainer money paid in advance is more important than protecting my life.

I fought for my life and my case is in law books. I want to live. I want to make my work.
Society benefits from artists and our contribution to society. I want my life back! I did nothing wrong! I simply lived!

Sandra Milner

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