Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy and Healthy Memorial Day Weekend to All

We are free because of the brave.

Remember our amazing armed forces and those who have lost their lives for our country.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thought of the Day

"Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced." 

- James Arthur Baldwin

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fast track appeals

In recent years, our Pennsylvania Supreme Court enacted a new Rule of Civil Procedure (Pa.R.A. 1925(a)(2)(i)), setting out a procedure for fast track appeals in cases involving children.

Basically, our courts realize that the usual time it takes an appeal to wind its way through the system often adversely affects the children. Accordingly, these cases are handled much more quickly. However, the parties then have a high burden to meet by having to quickly file various materials required by an appeal. Additionally, if parties do not comply with the procedural rules, their issues on appeal could be waived. That is exactly what happened in a case recently before the Superior Court captioned J.P. v. S.P. You can read the entire case here.

Notably, even though the issues were deemed waived in this case, the court still reviewed all of the submissions to determine whether or not the trial court had committed an abuse of discretion in deciding to award custody to Father. It appears from the Opinion that the Superior Court found that Mother would not have been due relief, even if she had followed the Rules.

What is notable about this decision for litigants involved in custody is that the trial court makes decisions as to credibility and how much weight to give a certain issue. For that reason, parties must take trials very seriously and understand that even though they may appeal based on mistakes of fact or mistakes of law, they will not get another bite of the apple to present their case at the appellate level.

Remember, if you do decide to appeal a custody decision, it will be fast tracked. You and your attorney must closely adhere to all deadlines.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mom and Dad live in different states - Where do we file for custody?

In an ever changing and transient world, a separated family that includes parents who live in different states has become more common. Obviously, only one state can have jurisdiction over custody. Generally, the court where the child lives will be the appropriate court to initially file a custody complaint. However, what happens if a child lives in a new state and cuts all ties to the original state? What happens if a child splits the time between neighboring states? These issues can present complex legal questions.

Recently, in the case of Rennie v. Rosenthol, the Pennsylvania Superior Court handled an appeal from Mother who disagreed that the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas should retain jurisdiction over the parties’ adopted daughter. Mother had moved to Minnesota with the child.

The Philadelphia proceedings became heated when Father requested that the Philadelphia Court transfer primary custody to him. Mother responded by asking the Philadelphia Court to relinquish jurisdiction to Minnesota so that the case could be argued there.

The Opinion includes a detailed review of the jurisdictional issues. Ultimately, the court decided that Pennsylvania, and specifically Philadelphia County, should retain jurisdiction. The substantive issue of whether or not Father should have custody does not yet appear to have been addressed by the court. If you would like to read the full Opinion, you should click here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Linda's Links

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