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  • Mandatory “Our Children First” Custody Seminar Temporarily Suspended by in Montgomery County Montgomery County is making major revisions to its custody procedure, including an overhaul of the “Our Children First” parenting seminar. This seminar is a requirement under Local Rule of Civil Procedure 1915.3* and mandatory for parties in custody cases. Effective today, the Court has temporarily suspended that Local Rule and the Court Administrator’s Office will refund registrations fees to anyone who is currently registered for the program and will not be accept registrations pending further Order of Court reinstating the... More
  • Judge Responsible for First Federal Decision Attacking Defense of Marriage Act Dies Though the point of this blog is to talk about recent developments in the area of family law, we would be bereft if we didn’t take a moment to recognize the life of U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro of the District of Massachusetts. He passed away on Friday at 87 years old. Judge Tauro presided over two cases attacking the federal Defense of Marriage Act. After finding that DOMA compelled Massachusetts to discriminate against its citizens in order to receive federal funding,... More
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reintroduces Custody Coordinators After a five-year hiatus due to a ruling that effectively undercut the viability of custody coordination, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has reintroduced custody coordination by Rule effective March 1, 2019. In the intervening five years, the Supreme Court (who promulgates the rules) in conjunction with the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee (of which Judge Daniel Clifford from Montgomery County is a member) have painstakingly reconstituted the custody coordination rules to rectify the fatal due process flaws found in the system... More
  • Medical (or not) Marijuana’s Impact on Custody Cases Pennsylvania uses the standard “the best interests of the child” when determining custody issues. What happens if the best interest of the child breaks the law? Such is the case in Georgia where parents of a 15 year old boy suffering from epilepsy resorted to marijuana to treat his seizures. Their argument is compelling: their son suffers from debilitating seizures that have not responded to traditional treatment and medical help is forty-five minutes away from them. They feared his seizures... More
  • Football Injuries Give Rise to Legal Custody Questions My colleague, Mark Ashton, was recently quoted in Mr. Ken Belson’s New York Times article addressing a Pittsburgh custody case grappling with whether a child should play football after having had three concussions before his 16th birthday. As Mark points out in the article, custody officers are unwilling to touch an issue such as contact sport participation because no one wants to be the one who provides the opportunity for a child to be hurt. I think another reason why... More
  • Misunderstanding Between Lawyer and Expert Results in Breach of Contract and Unused Report Experts and their reports can be an expensive, but necessary, element to many types of cases. This is particularly true in divorce cases, whether they are personal or business divorces. In all cases, it is incumbent on the attorney, client, and expert to all have the same understanding of the scope of the work and expectations on expense. Sometimes, it is not possible to absolutely predict how much litigation will cost or account for every variable or obstacle to a... More
  • I’m Not a Bad Parent but I Play One on YouTube While Alex Jones was the most recent high-profile example of a controversial public persona creating very personal and private problems, he is certainly not alone. Similar in theme, but not in execution is the case of the Michael and Heather Martin who are described as “YouTube stars” and post to a channel with over 760,000 subscribers. Their shtick is to torment their five children (three together; two are Michael’s kids from another relationship) by, “verbally [berating them], frequently to the point... More
  • Same Sex Common Law Marriage Established by Superior Court Since the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act by the United States Supreme Court, many state courts have been trying to fill in the legal vacuum created between the legality of same-sex marriage and the lack of codified law through legislation. Though many Courts of Common Pleas have taken on issues, it really requires good appellate decisions to establish precedential authority on an issue. This can take time since it requires the confluence of good facts applied to the... More
  • The Other Defendant: The Impact of Public Persona in a Custody Trial Child custody cases turn on the court’s determination of the child’s best interests.  As defined in Pennsylvania, this means having the judge apply evidence to Pennsylvania’s sixteen (16) custody factors and render a decision.  Evidence for a trial can come in a variety of ways and, with increasing frequency, the role of social media and public statements are among them.  Periodically, a case involving a public figure forces the courts to consider when an individual’s “public persona” or public statements... More
  • Modifying Unmodifiable Agreements A standard provision in most written agreements establishes that no modification of the agreement shall occur unless the parties do so in writing (and usually notarized to avoid fraud). Recently, however, I confronted the issue as to whether or not a party may make a valid oral modification of a provision of an agreement.  In other words, was the “all modifications in writing” provision of the agreement as ironclad as it appeared? The issue stemmed from the reimbursement of expenses related... More
  • Coaches and Schools Play Fast and Loose with Contracts Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo Leaving a job is easy – if not stressful – for almost the entire population: you leave on your own accord or are asked to leave by your employer. Some people have employment contracts which provide specific compensation or benefits upon separation; other people sign agreements with specific clauses which bar them from using their skills in a specific geographic location or directed at a certain clientele (aka, “non-compete clauses”).  Employment contracts are a powerful... More
  • Razorback Alex Collins: Chaotic Signing Day Leads to Productive College Career Since I wrote this post in February 2013, Alex Collins has weathered his mother’s attempt to keep him from enrolling at the University of Arkansas and become one of the best, if not perhaps the most underrated, running back in the country. Through eight games this year for a surprisingly competitive (they lost to Alabama 14-13 and beat Texas A&M 35-28) Razorbacks team, Alex has rushed for 747 yards on 118 carries (6.3 yards per carry) for scored 9 touchdowns.... More
  • Kluwe Kicks Dispute In Exchange For Charitable Donations Last week, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe and the Minnesota Vikings reached a settlement of Kluwe’s dispute with the team over what he characterized as the organization’s homophobic environment and release from the team due to his activism on behalf of marriage equality. Kluwe’s revelation of serious homophobic behavior and an institutional attempt to freeze him out of the team and, ultimately, his release created a firestorm of media coverage and an investigation into the behavior by special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer.  Kluwe... More
  • Punt, Pass, and Kicked Off The Team?: Potential Defamation Liabilities for Former Viking Chris KIuwe On January 6th, it was reported that former Minnesota Vikings punter, Chris Kluwe, retained legal counsel as the Vikings investigate allegations he made against the organization in his January 2nd Deadspin article.  His lawyer is there ostensibly to assist with the investigation the Vikings are conducting into his allegations.  Having read the Deadspin article and Kluwe’s allegations against former head coach, Leslie Frazier (“the Coward”), general manager, Rick Spielman (“the Coward”), and most critically, special teams coach Mike Priefer (“the... More