Keep your kids out of custody litigation

by Jonathan C. Noble         2 minute read

Keep your kids out of the middle

Every so often I see a parent try to pull their child into a child custody dispute. This is not a good idea. It is hard enough being a kid these days. Asking a young child to choose one parent over the other is often a bad idea. With very limited exception, kids should have ongoing access to both parents whenever possible.

Do not put pressure on your kids by pulling them into a custody battle. Be smart, even if the other parent is not smart. Leave your kids out of the fray.

Sole physical or sole legal custody: not likely

Unless there is compelling evidence under the law to preclude one parent from sharing physical or sharing legal custody of their minor child with the other parent, and both parents want to be in their child’s life, it is unlikely a court will order sole legal or sole physical custody of a child to only one parent. Sharing physical custody does not mean the parents will have equally shared physical custody on a 50/50 basis. No matter how much you may despise the other parent, they too have child custody rights under Pennsylvania child custody law. I have represented convicted felons out on parole in child custody matters. Unless there is a compelling reason under the law why a convicted felon out on parole cannot share custody of their child, a court will likely grant their request for a shared custody arrangement. No two family law cases are exactly alike. The specific facts of your case, and how those facts are presented to the court are two key elements of how your custody case will be decided.

Try to speak respectfully about the other parent. If you can’t speak respectfully about the other parent, then say nothing.

Children are like sponges. They pick up everything adults do and say. Even from an early age, children understand the difference between right and wrong. They understand hypocrisy. When you speak negatively about the other parent in front of the child, it often hurts children in a way they cannot easily ignore or defend. “If you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything”. Your kids will appreciate it, even if they do not say it. Children learn from your behavior. Be smart. Always take the high road. You can’t control the other parent.

If you are considering hiring an attorney in your family law case, search vigorously, select wisely.

Finding the right attorney to represent you in any legal matter can be difficult and time-consuming. I recommend speaking to at least two attorneys before hiring one. If you feel like you need to speak to more than two or three attorneys, keep searching before hiring one. Do NOT feel pressured into hiring an attorney until you are ready. Changing attorneys during a family law case can be expensive and counter-productive. Search vigorously from the start. Select wisely.

I look forward to hearing from you either for a brief phone inquiry or to schedule an in-depth initial consultation. I can be reached at  610 256 4843 or jonathancnobleesq at gmail dot com. I will consider representing individuals in complex family law cases throughout Pennsylvania.

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A Deadly Sin in Divorce | Pride

by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.        3 minute read

Some divorce issues are really personality issues in disguise.

Occasionally, I will handle a divorce case where the parties cooperate with each other and cooperate in bringing the divorce process to a fair and equitable close. Unfortunately,  in a majority of divorce cases, conflict often gets in the way of progress.

I have seen several litigants try to establish a position that is so absurd, or so unlikely to prevail under the law, that I wonder what it must have been like to live with that person. People tend to show their true character in times of adversity. Divorce proceedings can put most people in the most stressful, adverse situation they have ever experienced. True colors often shine through. Sometimes the result is not pretty. Sometimes pride displaces common sense.

Letting go of your pride is often difficult for many divorce litigants. Pick your battles wisely. Do not let pride or other counterproductive emotions prevent you from making a fresh start.

Do not let your pride weigh you down in divorce

Some people are so wrapped up in who is “right” or who is “wrong”, they are blinded by their own pride. This mindset can be a major mistake in the context of a divorce. I have never seen pride or hubris win the day in divorce court. We are all human. Having too much of the wrong type of pride may cloud your thinking when trying to navigate a divorce. You should usually try to focus on the big picture and move past the trivial battles that mean very little when all is said and done.

Start with a level-headed, experienced lawyer. Then listen carefully, ask questions, and act accordingly.

Great lawyers listen to their clients and explain the law and legal strategy going forward. Smart clients listen to their lawyer carefully, ask questions, and do the things necessary to get the best overall outcome in their legal matter. Great communication is a two-way street. Clients who refuse to listen, or refuse to act according to the legal advice they have been given, usually create unnecessary headwinds for themselves. Start with hiring a level-headed, experienced lawyer. Then listen. Ask questions. Keep a lid on your pride. Stay focused.

If you are looking for a no-nonsense approach to your family law matter, I welcome your inquiry. Please contact my office via email to set up a consultation. (jonathancnobleesq at gmail dot com). I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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The Always Angry Spouse – Tales From The Dark (Divorce) Side

by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.                   3 minute read

Family law case facts never surprise me. Digging deep is what I do.

Every family law case has a unique set of facts. There is almost always two (or three) sides to a story. Sometimes people focus more on emotional issues than on getting to the root cause of the friction in their relationship. I have had potential divorce clients come in for a consultation, then enter therapy for themselves and take good care of themselves. Sometimes a potential divorce client successfully reconciles with their spouse or partner. This is always a good thing, whenever possible.

Unfortunately, sometimes reconciliation is not possible. That is where I come in.

“I told you 2% milk, and you come home with 1% milk! How could you do that to me!”

I have handled family law cases where the daily living situation is no longer tenable for one or both spouses. One case involved a person who became increasingly agitated at virtually nothing. In one case, I had a client who would arrive home after a long day working in a high-stress job, only to have his stay-at-home spouse start yelling at him, for virtually no logical reason about the most minor insignificant things. He came in for a consultation after he realized that his spouse was abusive and hostile towards him, and things were getting worse. One night he arrived home with 1% milk, after his spouse sent him a text message earlier that day to buy 2% milk on his way home. “They were out of 2% milk, and it was getting late”, he told me. Something needed to change.

Sometimes underlying issues can be fleshed out and cleaned up. Sometimes not.

It is amazing what can happen when people realize what they can change and what they cannot change. Sometimes people blame their spouse or loved ones for problems that they themselves own. Sometimes people come to a relationship with deeply rooted baggage that only they can examine and repair. It may take work, and it may take help from a competent and caring mental health professional, but some people are willing to put in the work to save their relationship and become a better version of themselves. In some cases, this is not possible.

Consulting with an experienced family law attorney does not mean you are ready to file for divorce. However, it will help you understand your options and help you formulate a strategy going forward.

If you have read this far, you are likely thinking about contacting an experienced divorce or family law attorney. An in-depth consultation is usually a good idea before filing any documents, or hiring any attorney to represent you. It is almost always best to understand all of your options through the lens of a family law attorney who is licensed to practice in your state. Forget the well-meaning advice from friends and family members. Friends and family may love you, but they do not know the law, and cannot assess your legal situation as an attorney can.

Feel free to contact my office at 610 256 4843 if you would like to set up a brief phone call or an in-depth face-to-face consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Pro Tip: Stay Informed In Your Family Law Matter

by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.          3 minute read

The best case outcomes in many family law matters depend on active, ongoing client involvement and two-way communication between attorney and client. A good working relationship between attorney and client is often essential for a good outcome in family law matters.

Unlike some other areas of law practice, family law matters depend on open, ongoing, two-way communication between lawyer and client. Divorce and child custody matters are often emotional. Events often take place during family law litigation that could impact the outcome of a case. Unless the client and his or her counsel have an open line of communication, the chances for the best possible outcome can decline.

Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.

Common reasons why some clients are reluctant to keep their counsel abreast of new developments in their family law matter. 

a) Some clients feel like they will be overcharged for sending their lawyer a short email or asking a simple question. If you find yourself in this situation, bring it up to your lawyer without delay.

b) Sometimes a client will think that newly discovered information will hurt their case, so they say nothing and hope it goes unnoticed. This is a big mistake. Let your lawyer decide what is important. If you don’t keep your lawyer informed, you could get blindsided at trial.

c) Some family law clients are simply not in an emotional state to stay on top of the issues involved in a high conflict family law matter. This is common. The best thing to do is seek professional help. Mental health treatment can be a key component to becoming the best person you can be. There is no shame or stigma for reaching out for professional help, especially in times of great stress. Do not wait.

Your family law attorney should be your trusted advocate. Forming a great working relationship can often impact the result in your family law matter. I invite your inquiry. Feel free to contact my office at (610) 256 4843.

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Why you want a Smart / Savvy Lawyer, not a Rude / Obnoxious Lawyer

by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.       5 minute Read

Smart, focused, savvy lawyers nearly always beat rude, obnoxious, bombastic lawyers in Family Court. 

As a family law attorney who has been involved in some epic battles, I want to share some insight. When all is said and done, the smart, focused, savvy and hard working lawyers nearly always beat the rude, obnoxious and bombastic lawyers in family court. Most excellent family law attorneys do not get caught up in the mindless and counterproductive fighting brought on by their adversary. The best lawyers are focused on winning their cases, and achieving favorable outcomes for their clients.

When lawyers fight with each other, progress grinds to a halt. Yet the meter is still running for the client.

When lawyers fight with each other, the client does not benefit. Skilled litigators are not baited by opposing counsel.

I am not sure why some divorce, child custody, and family law attorneys think that they must “put on a show” for their clients. I can’t tell you how many nasty letters and emails I have received from opposing counsel where they make absurd allegations about my client that are neither truthful, nor relevant to the issues in the case. Some letters even make ad hominem attacks on me for skillfully protecting and advancing my client’s rights. I find it interesting that some lawyers actually believe that the nasty, bombastic letters they send me will somehow positively impact the outcome of the family law matter in favor of their client. These letters are nothing more than an ill-advised or ignorant attempt by opposing counsel to demonstrate to their client what a “nasty shark” their client has hired. Then the “nasty shark” lawyer bills their client for the totally ineffective letter. The smart, savvy, and hard working lawyers are not at all impacted by nasty shark tactics. The smart and savvy lawyers can (and do) nearly always beat the nasty shark in every area of family law cases.

Nearly all nasty, obnoxious letters I receive are from opposing counsel who either a) do not know me well, and/or b) they do not know any other way to act. Some lawyers only have one mindset, and they only know one method to approach every case. They cannot understand the difference between motion and progress. Avoid hiring these types of lawyers to handle your family law matter, unless you enjoy wasting time and money.

These attorneys love to “put on a show” for their client. In nearly every situation, the nasty letters do nothing more than inflate the billable time opposing counsel charges their client, while doing nothing to resolve the legal issues in the case. In other words, inflammatory letters exchanged between lawyers are rarely (if ever) effective in resolving important legal issues and moving a family law case forward. They are only an effective tool in costing clients time and money.

Family Law Attorneys who Encourage Fights – A Big Red Flag When Choosing Legal Counsel

Family law cases get emotional. Divorce and child custody issues are rarely easy for either party. Emotions run high. If your attorney is encouraging fights over trivial matters, that is a red flag. Great lawyers can and do make terrific arguments on points that really matter to help you get a favorable outcome in your case. That is the bottom line.

Why proper due diligence matters when selecting a family law attorney – breaking up is often hard to do

On occasion, I am contacted by people who are not happy with another attorney they hired, or how their family law matter is progressing.  Often, they are trying to change family law counsel, midstream. Trying to change your attorney in the middle of a family law matter is often rooted in two problem issues; lack of the client doing proper due diligence when initially selecting their current family law attorney, and / or lack of good two-way communication between the client and their counsel. Excellent two-way attorney-client communication is often essential for obtaining the best possible result in family law matters.

Roadsign different directions BLUE
Make sure that you and your family law attorney are headed in the same direction. Your attorney must understand the specific facts of your case, your goals, and what issues are important to you.

CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY WISELY

I cannot overemphasize the importance of wisely choosing your attorney before hiring him or her. Taking the time to properly investigate and interview more than one family law attorney is one of the best things you can do to help yourself. Ask questions. Attend your initial consultation prepared. You should never feel pressured or obligated to hire an attorney until you are ready, and you have done your homework. In my opinion, many excellent family law attorneys know this, and they will never have a problem if you want an opinion from another family law attorney prior to making a decision regarding who you want to hire.

Once you choose a family law attorney, sign a letter of engagement, and begin working with that attorney, breaking up can be both hard to do and expensive. Discharging your attorney and hiring new counsel, prior to successfully concluding the original professional engagement, is neither good for the client, nor good for the attorney. That is why performing proper due diligence, and ensuring a good overall fit, prior to actually hiring an attorney is critical.

The initial face-to-face meeting with an attorney is very important. Mutual trust and understanding carry the day. Trust your instincts. Search vigorously, select wisely. Your future may depend on it.

Here below, is one of the short videos I posted on YouTube, regarding choosing counsel in family law matters. If you are seeking legal counsel, I hope you find it helpful. I wish you much luck and success.

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“What state law will be used to interpret and enforce my prenup?”

by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.

No, this isn’t a bar exam question. It is real life. How many adults do you know who have lived in the same state their entire life? Probably not too many. People are more mobile today than ever. A properly drafted and properly executed prenuptial agreement will help answer what state law will control in the event the prenup needs to be enforced. Since we live in a mobile society, and state laws vary widely, this issue could “make-or-break” the enforceability of your document.

Prenuptial Agreements are carefully crafted documents, tailored to suit your specific situation and your specific needs and goals.

I love when people inquire about prenuptial agreements. It shows they are taking a cautiously optimistic, yet pragmatic view regarding how life can and does change. People change over time. Circumstances change. Laws change. In the unfortunate event of divorce (or death), a properly drafted and executed prenuptial agreement can make the divorce process easier, more efficient, and help ensure you do not lose all that you have amassed. Properly drafted, and executed, a prenup is one very useful document.

Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.
Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.

Prenups make sense. When properly written and executed, prenups save time and money. They can help you exit from a non-functioning marriage without paying a king’s ransom to your lawyer and/or being potentially victimized by a non-cooperative, or unrealistic, soon-to-be ex-spouse. Prenups can help protect assets that you have earmarked for your children from a prior marriage. Prenups can help protect your assets from being depleted by the well meaning, but often slow churning, and over-burdened court system. As a very general rule, the less time you spend in court fighting over divorce related issues, the better off you will be at the end of the divorce process.

I believe the best legal advice is forward thinking, with the aim to keep you out of court as much as possible. A well drafted and properly executed prenup should be part of a pragmatic, forward thinking strategy.

Prenuptial agreements are never standard or “boilerplate” agreements. 

No two prenuptial agreements are exactly alike. Everyone has different assets, different goals, different financial histories and different family histories. While most prenuptial agreements are put in place in the event of divorce or death, no two marriages share an identical set of facts and circumstances.  You should never take a prenuptial agreement written for someone else and simply substitute your own information.

Like all contracts, the parties must enter into a prenuptial agreement voluntarily. Prenups require full disclosure. No surprises. 

If you are thinking about springing a prenuptial agreement on your significant other during the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, you can forget it. In most, if not all jurisdictions, a prenuptial agreement will not be enforced if the party seeking to have the prenup set aside can prove they were not given adequate time and a reasonable opportunity to review the document with independent counsel of their own choosing. Presenting a prenup for the first time and demanding it be signed a few days prior to a wedding is inviting trouble down the road. Some jurisdictions require a minimum amount of time for the parties to retain separate counsel,  to examine, and to sign a prenup. The earlier you handle discussing and putting a prenup in place, normally the better. Getting a prenuptial agreement properly wrapped up before the wedding invitations are mailed is one suggestion that deserves serious consideration.

If you are planning to marry and would like to learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can help protect you, please feel free to contact me via email at jonathancnobleesq@gmail.com or call my office at 610 256 4843 to set up an initial consultation.

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