I hired Caroline Cooley, the owner and lead attorney for Caroline C. Cooley LLC. That was the name of her law office in Castle Rock, CO at the time. Now she works at 4th Street Attorneys at Law. It is the exact same office location just with a new name. This her new website: http://fourthstreetlaw.com/. My opinion is that you should not hire her at any cost. She misses deadlines, fails to fulfill basic court requirements, and at least in my case extended my divorce out by many months. She was often unresponsive and didn’t really listen to what I had to say about my own case. This is my general opinion. If you have time to read on I will get specific. I am also available to discuss if you contact me through this blog.
Below I will describe in detail how:
– Caroline Cooley missed important deadlines
– Caroline Cooley let personal issues cause conflicts in my case
– Caroline Cooley failed to serve basic paperwork
– Caroline Cooley failed to represent my best interests
– Caroline Cooley lost a battle in court that I later won
In July of 2008 my then spouse ran off with my kids. We were living in Utah and she moved to Castle Rock, CO where she filed a bogus restraining order limiting my contact with the kids. The order was granted on a temporary basis and I was given a hearing to refute the accusations. I contacted the law firm of Caroline C. Cooley LLC. After a phone consultation I decided to hire them to represent me in the restraining order and to file for a divorce.
In October of 2008 they filed the divorce paperwork for me. In November I got a hearing set for January 26, 2009. It was combined to address the temporary restraining order and the first step in the divorce called temporary orders (TO). By the time that hearing came up I had been separated from my children for 7 months and I was very anxious to be back together with them again.
About a month before the hearing Caroline’s husband, who was the attorney working with me, had an affair. Rather than allowing him to continue working with his clients she kicked him out of the firm. She also kicked out the legal aide he had an affair with. She took their work load. I understand why she was upset but not her decision to dismiss him from the firm so abruptly. She should have been professional about that instead of risking poor service to her clients.
Because she made that rash personal decision it caused a conflict for my hearing. She rescheduled the TO part for a month later on February 25, 2009. Her personal life extended my wait by a month. It was a month longer away from my kids and of her billing me. Since she scheduled a new date that meas she had to appear in court twice – twice the billing for her. When I brought these points up with her she ignored me and billed for it all anyway.
In March of 2009 my then estranged spouse took one my kids out of state. The divorce filing prohibited this so by leaving she violated the divorce orders. Caroline suggested we file a contempt motion. A lot of billable hours and effort went into it. I had all the proof so it should have been open and shut. Before the hearing her attorney started saying that we never served the divorce papers. It is standard procedure with all filings that that they be served on the other party. I hired Caroline Cooley LLC to know and take care of these things. They dropped the ball on this.
Many hours were spent preparing for the hearing. We discussed the case and went over evidence. Many emails were sent back and forth between Caroline and I and the other attorney. Caroline had to go in to court for an advisement hearing over this issue. So, you can imagine how several thousand dollars in billing stacked up over just this one issue. On the day of the hearing the judge dismissed it because Caroline never served the papers. But guess what, she billed me for all the work that went into the contempt and refused to discuss her blame. I never had a chance of winning the contempt because Caroline Cooley didn’t provide basic reasonable legal services.
As the final step in the divorce, the permanent orders (PO) hearing approached I sent an email to Caroline asking her about exhibits and witnesses. I asked when the deadline was for me to get them together for the court.The response I got was that there was plenty of time. Well the week of my hearing I finally just put the binder together. In my exhibits I had evidence to argue against awarding alimony to my then wife. The judge said I couldn’t use any of it because it wasn’t in on time. It left me with almost no evidence for an argument against awarding alimony to my then wife and I was ordered to pay $1000/month for 3 years. This could have avoided if Caroline had just kept on top of deadlines. Other things might have turned out better as well if I had the documents and witnesses I wanted.
Just before the PO the child custody evaluator in our case recommended to the court that I be given sole legal decision making in all major areas. At the end of the hearing the judge asked the attorneys to write up some proposed orders for him. In her proposed orders Caroline Cooley wrote that I should have sole educational decision making but should share medical decision making. Why on Earth would she suggest less than what the court appointed evaluator suggested? Why would she suggest that knowing how difficult my ex is? Wasn’t she supposed to be working for my best interests?
Fortunately, the court didn’t agree with Caroline Cooley. They agreed with the evaluator and I was given sole decision making in all major areas. Decisions with my ex has been very difficult even though I have sole authority. Shared decisions would have been h**l and that’s what Caroline Cooley recommended for me.
The court orders were written in a confusing way. Per a certain reading it could be construed to say that I needed to pay my ex a sum of a little over $6,000. I read through the orders carefully and could see that there was no payment ordered. I emailed Caroline about it and explained my position. When my wife’s attorney contacted Caroline she didn’t support me. She told him I would need him to set up a payment plan. Then she emailed me and said that she thought the court had ordered the payment.
So my ex’s attorney filed a motion for the court to order me to pay. He took advantage of a new judge and wrote it to make it look like I owed the money. The day after he filed that motion I sent my response to Caroline Cooley. Did she turn it in right away? No! She waited until after the deadline to respond passed and then submitted a motion for an extension. The night Caroline Cooley called me to tell me she was going to file the extension (the response was already late by then) she told me she had a couple glasses of wine and she sounded lethargic and slightly inebriated to me. I can’t say for sure that she was but that was impression I got from her lethargy. That judge ordered me to pay my ex the $6,000+ and her attorney fees as well since Caroline’s response was late.
After this I asked Caroline to withdraw as my attorney. It was like the only thing that I asked her to do that she ever did in a timely fashion. Then I filed a motion by myself for the court to reconsider it’s ruling on the payment. It took 3 months of back and forth arguing, responses, motions, stress, anxiety, etc. with my ex’s attorney before the court finally approved my motion. The court said that my interpretation of the permanent orders was correct – no payment had been ordered in the first place. In other words I understood the original court orders better than Caroline Cooley and I won on an issue that she lost. It took a h**l of a lot of time and effort to pull it off. It was a total headache and loads of trouble. How did I win? I used the response I sent to Caroline Cooley the day after the motion was file. So I gave her the correct response and she just never turned it in on time. If she had I would have been saved all that grief.
At the time of this writing Caroline Cooley isn’t sending me emails to apologize for her less than reasonable legal services. She is trying to get more money from me. It’s unbelievable. So, I’m writing this blog and more like it to get the word out. Stay clear of Caroline Cooley. In my opinion her service is terrible.