October 2011 Newsletter
Here it is one month later, and you are receiving the second edition of the RGS&G Newsletter. It was very encouraging that virtually no one opted out of receiving it (please don’t now!). In fact, we heard from many of you that you enjoyed the Newsletter and looked forward to receiving the next issue. So here we are again. We hope to reach out to you about ten times a year with information you may find useful and which has application to your busy lives.
As lawyers who have been in business for many years (39 for me), we are seeing an alarming trend in various practice areas shying away from the use of lawyers in favor of no representation. The economy surely is responsible for a large part of this trend, but so is the rising cost of everything. Unfortunately, people are going pro se (representing themselves) in just about every area of law. While you may think you are saving money, you may be seriously jeopardizing your case or claim or interest. Criminal defendants who do not qualify for a public defender are facing incarceration in cases that, when well represented, would only result in probation or even a dismissal of the charges. Divorcing parents are entering into agreements which critically interfere with their custodial parenting rights and the division of their marital assets. Many people have used internet company forms to draft their own wills, not realizing the tax implications and financial burdens they are placing upon their children in the future. Partners are starting businesses without agreements on how to conduct their business, share profits, or how to break up if the business fails. Never has the old adage of “you get what you pay for” apply more. Be careful how you go about dealing with the legal issues that you face. The money you may need to spend now will likely save you aggravation, time and lots of money later.
Marc Robert Steinberg
RGS&G Attorney Kevin Regan Named as 2011 PA Rising Star!
We are proud to announce that Kevin Regan has been named a 2011 Pennsylvania Rising Star. He was named by his fellow lawyers in the Commonwealth, which was publicly announced in the June publication of Philadelphia Magazine. This is the second consecutive year he received this honor.
Kevin Regan has been practicing law since 2004 and joined RGS&G in 2007. At the Temple University School of Law, he graduated with Honors for Outstanding Oral Advocacy in Trial Advocacy. His practice focuses on criminal law, family law, and personal injury law. From 2004 through 2007, he served as a Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney in the Safe Streets Program. He served on both the Narcotics and Firearms units, and he prosecuted hundreds of cases, from preliminary hearing through trial, including assaults, felony and misdemeanor narcotics, firearm violations, DUI, robbery, theft, and homicide. He is a member of the Montgomery, Lehigh and Pennsylvania Bar Associations and currently serves on the Criminal Defense and Family Law Committees of the Montgomery Bar Association. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice.
What to Do When Arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Bob’s Nightmare
As I left the picnic grove, I remember thinking that this was probably the most fun I’ve had at an office picnic in many years. I drank a few more beers than I usually do at these affairs; however, since I was playing softball and volleyball most of the afternoon, I figured I was okay to drive. The sun was just beginning to set. The top was down and the radio was blaring my favorite tunes as I thought about all the fun I had at the picnic. I was surprised when the four point buck jumped into the roadway causing me to swerve and drive into a ditch. As I got out to survey the damage to my vehicle, the local police arrived to investigate. As I was explaining the story about this rather large deer that jumped into my path, I was interrupted with the question, “Have you been drinking Sir?” I explained to the officer that I had a couple of beers at the office picnic and was in control of my vehicle until this deer ran into my path. He asked me to perform some field sobriety tests. The next thing I know, he placed me under arrest, handcuffed me and put me in the back of his police car saying, “Sir, you are under arrest for DUI and we are taking you for a blood test.” At that moment, I realized the gravity of the situation. The fun and joy of that afternoon was going to end in a nightmare.
While at the hospital, the officer advised me of something called “implied consent law” and told me if I did not allow my blood to be tested I would lose my license for one year. I thought about not having the test because I figured I probably had a few beers more than I normally would at an office picnic. However, I agreed to the test. I was taken back to the police department and was fingerprinted and photographed. Approximately two hours after my nightmare began, my wife was called to pick me up and take me home.
I didn’t hear another thing about this event for four weeks. I began to believe it was all just a bad dream and that maybe my blood was under the legal limit and therefore, I would not hear anything more about this. Just when I had convinced myself the event was in the past, I received a Summons in the mail advising me to appear before the local district magistrate to answer for the charge of DUI. According to the Criminal Complaint, my blood alcohol was a .163. As I read the Complaint, my mind was racing, “what would I do about my traveling sales job”? I was on the road three and four days a week and this could affect my livelihood and maybe I would be terminated from my job. My knees began to buckle, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach.
Child Custody Law Changes Effective January 24, 2011
On January 24, 2011, Pennsylvania’s new Child Custody Act went into effect greatly changing the way custody matters are handled.
Some of the most important changes include the consideration by the court of criminal convictions when a parent seeks any form of custody, specific relocation requirements, standing for grandparents in custody cases, and the enumeration of factors the court must consider when determining a child’s best interests. These factors include the child’s sibling relationships, the preference of the child, the attempts of one parent to turn the child against the other parent, any history of drug or alcohol abuse, and any other relevant factors.
The relocation requirements include not only factors the court must apply in determining whether relocation is in a child’s best interests, but also certain notice requirements and forms that must be sent under specific deadlines. For instance, if notice of relocation is provided and the other parent fails to file an objection within 30 days, he or she will not be permitted to object to the relocation. Some of the relocation factors a court must consider include the child’s preference, whether relocation will enhance the quality of life of the child, reasons for the relocation and bests interests of the child.
Under the new law, the court must provide for an evaluation in the case of a criminal conviction to determine whether the offender poses a threat to the child before a custody order is entered. This also applies to household members of a parent seeking custody.
The court may also require parents to submit parenting plans and the new rules contain a form for this purpose.
Although there are now many more things the court has to look at in determining child custody, hopefully these new rules will provide parents with more guidance prior to making important decisions regarding custody of their children.
Guardianships for developmentally disabled individuals are now being required as they reach the age of majority at 18. A guardianship order is necessary to ensure the uninterrupted ability of the parent(s) to make health care and financial decisions and obtain governmental benefits for their eligible son or daughter as they are now Adults in the eyes of the law.
This trend requiring a guardianship for all applicable adult individuals is not the result of a change in law. Rather, medical service providers, banks and governmental agencies are simply requiring parents of developmentally challenged “adults” to strictly conform to existing law to secure formal legal authority to allow them to continue to make decisions, both personal and financial, for their now “adult” children. A knowledgeable, experienced attorney can ease what may otherwise be a difficult and confusing process to obtain the required guardianship from the courts.
We have been helping Pennsylvania families navigate the guardianship process to assist their loved ones and will handle this process with the utmost care, sensitivity and attention to detail.
RGS&G’S Weekly Radio Show – “Legally Speaking”
Did you know we have a weekly radio show on WNPV AM 1440? Tune in each Wednesday from 11:10 am through 12 noon to hear our lawyers field call-in questions and discuss legal and other current issues of the day.