The Legal Intelligencer: Counsel Fees Award in Child Custody Case Reversed
In an article published in The Legal Intelligencer on October 18, 2021, family law attorney Michael Bertin discusses Section 5339 of the Custody Act enabling courts to award counsel fees to a party if the court found the conduct of another party was obdurate, vexatious, repetitive or in bad faith in custody cases.
Michael examines the case of Moyer v. Leone, ___ A.3d ___ (Pa. Super. 2021), 2021 Pa. Super. 153 (Aug. 4, 2021), the most recent case to address Section 5339. The Moyer case is an important reminder for both the practitioner and the bench that while Section 5339 is used as a mechanism to stop repetitive filings in child custody cases, every case is fact-specific and the number of petitions, under the circumstances, does not necessarily equate to “repetitiveness” and, much like the requirement for the detailed explanations in custody decisions in applying the child custody factors under §5328, the viability of attorneys fees awards under §5339 is tethered to the detailed opinion supporting such an award.
Michael Bertin is a family law attorney who focuses his practice on child custody, child support, and divorce, including the negotiation and litigation of domestic relations cases, divorce, custody, support, alimony, property distribution, prenuptial agreements, and related issues. He represents clients in the Philadelphia region, the Main Line, Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester counties, and throughout Pennsylvania. He maintains offices in Philadelphia, PA, and in West Conshohocken, PA located in the heart of the Main Line. Michael was selected as the 2021 Lawyer of the Year for Family Law in the Philadelphia region by the Best Lawyers in America. He is co-author of the book Pennsylvania Child Custody Law, Practice, And Procedure. Michael is a former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and former Chair of the Family Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Michael holds the officer position of Secretary of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and is the current Co-Chair of the Custody Committee of the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Michael also serves as chair of Obermayer’s Pro Bono Committee.