Pro Tip: Get Involved and 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 attorney is your 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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Protection From Abuse filings in Custody Cases – a Word of Caution


by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq.

Lately, I have noticed an increasing number of persons filing Protection From Abuse (PFA) petitions against each other as a method to gain some sort of advantage in custody litigation.  Unless you are involved in a bona fide abuse situation, filing a PFA is usually not productive. In fact, it can be counter-productive.

Domestic Abuse is NEVER acceptable.

First, most family court judges are sensitive to this tactic. If you pursue a groundless PFA against the other parent, you run the risk of looking foolish and manipulative before the court. This is certainly not something you want. You can also be charged with the court costs, attorney’s fees, and other sanctions associated with filing a bogus PFA petition.

Second, I have seen far too many family court litigants file PFA petitions as a substitute for family therapy, relationship counseling, or mediation. I sometimes see questionable PFA filings occur when one person in a relationship is certain the relationship is ending, while the other person wants the relationship to continue, no matter what. In an ill-advised moment of anger or revenge, one (or both) people file a questionable PFA petition. Filing a PFA petition to keep the inevitable breakup from occurring, or for retaliating against the other person, is never a good idea. It can (and often does) backfire on the filing party.

Third, before, during and after custody litigation, it is almost always better for a child to have access to both parents. Even if one parent believes the children are better off by being only with them, the courts may not agree. Every case is different, but unless there is a clear danger to the child, children should usually have access to both parents. The courts are normally able to distinguish between one parent posturing in advance of a custody battle via a PFA filing, and a situation that actually requires court intervention to protect someone from being abused.

Some counties in Pennsylvania have a PFA intake coordinator. These coordinators help screen out potentially meritless PFA filings before they are filed. One Pennsylvania county (Montgomery) recently incorporated an innovative PFA Friend of the Court program where attorneys help facilitate agreements between the parties after a PFA petition has been filed, but before the matter proceeds before a judge for a final disposition. Basically, the parties voluntarily enter into written agreements (in the form of a court order), which is signed by the parties, signed by the judge, placed on the docket, and then become enforceable orders of court. The original PFA petitions are almost always voluntarily withdrawn on the record upon reaching an alternate, enforceable, written  agreement. The PFA Friend of the Court program is a win-win alternative to the standard PFA filing and hearing process.

PFA petitions are absolutely necessary in certain situations. It is important to remember that using a PFA petition for purposes other than what they were designed for, is never a good idea.