Attorney for Jennifer Dulos’ kids wants to get paid and his role defined in custody battle
STAMFORD — In response to Fotis Dulos seeking to end his acrimonious divorce with his missing wife, an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the couple’s children is calling for a hearing before a judge.
Attorney Michael Meehan, a court-appointed guardian ad litem for the five Dulos children, is asking the judge overseeing the two-year divorce to hold a status conference to discuss his fees and his future role in the case.
Meehan filed the request Thursday, one week after attorney Richard Rochlin, representing Fotis Dulos, filed papers seeking to end the divorce because Jennifer Dulos’ May 24 disappearance has stalled the proceedings.
Rochlin also sought to move custody proceedings for the five children to juvenile court to challenge a New Canaan Probate Court judge’s recent decision to grant Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber, guardianship of the children.
Farber’s attorneys have claimed Fotis Dulos owes Meehan $43,000 in unpaid fees. Both parents were responsible for paying for Meehan’s services.
Attorney Reuben Midler, representing Jennifer Dulos in the divorce, filed papers this week opposing Fotis Dulos’ push to end the legal action on the grounds he is the prime suspect in his estranged wife’s disappearance and has been charged in the missing persons case.
Midler contends the divorce is still “hotly contested” and there are several issues that still need to be decided, including custody of the children who have been staying with Farber since their mother disappeared.
Midler also wants Fotis Dulos to pay his attorney fees and legal costs associated with defending the motion to dismiss the divorce and any other actions he files.
Rochlin’s motion to dismiss coincided with his request to appeal the guardianship ruling. The custody battle will be the subject of a hearing in Stamford juvenile court on Jan. 9 — the same day Fotis Dulos is scheduled to appear at the courthouse for his next pretrial hearing on the criminal charges related to the disappearance.
Fotis Dulos intends to seek access to the children during the hearing, according to Rochlin who contends Meehan’s services have not been used for months.
According to Midler, there is no record of Meehan being removed from the case. Meehan indicated in his request for a status conference that the matter was not urgent, but he wanted to discuss his fees and his role as the children’s guardian ad litem.
In his motion to dismiss the divorce, Rochlin contends the dormant status of the divorce could lead to “different judges” issuing “conflicting orders on the same issues,” including in custody matters.
A Stamford family court judge had limited Fotis Dulos’ access to his children prior to the May 24 disappearance. Fotis Dulos was allowed supervised visits with his children, the last of which occurred at his estranged wife’s New Canaan home two days before she vanished.
Fotis Dulos has since been banned from all contact with his children as part of the conditions of his release on bail for charges of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in the disappearance.
Farber, who has been granted the right to intervene in the divorce, has been caring for the children since the disappearance and is seeking permanent custody of them.
Jennifer Dulos was last seen on a neighbor’s security camera returning to the Welles Lane home she had been renting around 8:05 a.m. May 24. According to arrest warrants, police believe Fotis Dulos was “lying in wait” when she arrived home from dropping off their children at a nearby school.
Police said two people resembling Fotis Dulos and his former girlfriend Michelle Troconis were captured on video in Hartford later that night around the time Jennifer Dulos was reported missing. The man police contend is Fotis Dulos was seen on the videos dumping bags that were later determined to contain his wife’s blood and clothing, the warrants said.
A separate arrest warrant said Fotis Dulos and Troconis — who faces the same charges — also took a red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck belonging to a Fore Group employee to a car wash in the days after the disappearance. Police said in the warrant that they believe Fotis Dulos drove the truck to New Canaan the morning of the disappearance.
Fotis Dulos also urged the employee to remove the seats, which testing later revealed contained Jennifer Dulos’ blood, according to the warrant.