Attorney Loses Custody Case and Why I Don’t Do Family Law

Happy Valentine’s Day!

After I left the District Attorney’s Office about a 100 years ago I was hired at a personal injury law firm.

I knew absolutely nothing about injury law. So I started asking partners there about advice concerning cases.

Herb Lurie, now deceased, gave me some of the best legal advice I ever received.

Herb told me to pick a couple areas of the law and concentrate ONLY on those areas of the law. He told me not to be a general practitioner because it’s just too hard to keep up with the ever-changing laws in all areas of the profession.

I took that advice to heart.

I focused my practice on only 2 areas of the law. Personal injury and criminal defense.

I still do.

Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, slip and fall, and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully probably knows much less about custody matters and family law than anyone.

That is why the article below captured my imagination.

Apparently an attorney at a major law firm made an agreement with his ex that he would be charged $10,000 each time he tried to change the child custody agreement they entered into.

I guess the reasoning behind agreeing to this was that if the ex-wife became gainfully employed, the attorney wanted to be able to get his child support payments lowered.

The legal question became is an agreement such as this legal and binding on the parties?

What’s your take on this?

Can an attorney or anyone for that matter be required to pay a $10,000 penalty every time he attempts to alter the original custody agreement with his ex?

Well surprisingly to Pittsburgh wrongful death, car accident, and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully the court decided that he can.

The reasoning was both sides can agree to ANY term or condition of a custody matter as long as it’s legal and proper.

Well there you have it. I would’ve guessed such an agreement is against public policy.

So old Herb was right. Stick to an area or two in the law kiddo and let all the other areas go.

That’s why I only do personal injury and criminal defense work.

From the Legal Intelligencer: A former Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney attorney’s agreement to pay $10,000 each time he might seek to alter his child’s custody agreement is enforceable, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Although the en banc panel’s ruling in Huss v. Weaver rejected a common pleas court’s ruling that the payment agreement was against public policy, the decision largely agreed with the ruling of an earlier three-judge Superior Court panel.

The divided eight-judge panel determined that, while child support rights belong to the children and therefore cannot be bargained away by the parents, there is no similar public policy concern when it comes to custody and visitation rights.
“Rights to custody and visitation … belong to the parents,” said Judge John T. Bender, who wrote the panel’s majority opinion. “In no way, however, do custody and visitation agreements involve the bargaining away of the rights of the children, and accordingly they are not unenforceable as against public policy on the same basis as are agreements regarding child support.”

Thanks for reading.

Bernie the attorney.