You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: The Value of Sound Representation in Divorce Actions


You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: The Value of Sound Representation in Divorce Actions

“Paul” worked hard for 30 years to support his wife and two children.  His job was in sales and commission based, so he worked tirelessly around the clock to establish himself as one of the top performers in his field.  Paul was a great salesperson and savvy businessman, so when his wife started a new relationship and filed for divorce, Paul felt comfortable handling his divorce without an attorney.  Boy was he wrong!

Paul’s wife had moved on, engrossed in her new relationship.  She stipulated that the children would live primarily with Paul and bought herself a new condo at the beach.  Paul tried to work with his wife’s attorney to broker a settlement on the financial terms of his divorce, but his wife’s attorney was a “shark” and obtained a favorable result at trial that had Paul paying an exorbitant amount of alimony each month for the next 10 years.  It was at this point that Paul contacted LaMonaca Law to see if there was a way to undo this result.

During his initial consultation with LaMonaca Law, Paul met with an experienced team of family law attorneys to discuss his avenues to relief.  Because Wife’s alimony award was a final order, it would be a long and costly process to try and undo at the appellate level.  But not all hope was lost.

During their consultation, Paul told the attorneys at LaMonaca about his wife’s new life: her condo at the beach, no debt to speak of, and a hefty monthly income that, at the time, was tax-free.  Lastly, her new boyfriend.  Over the course of his consultation, the question arose as to whether the new boyfriend was living at wife’s home.  After all, every time Paul picked up the children from his Wife, boyfriend’s VW bus with the Grateful Dead sticker was parked right outside.  “How is this equitable??”  Paul asked.

What Paul didn’t know, and what Paul’s ex-wife apparently didn’t know, is that cohabitation is a statutory disqualifier for receiving alimony payments in Pennsylvania.  Paul’s attorneys explained to him that if he could prove that Wife was living with her new boyfriend, he may be able to terminate his alimony obligation.  Paul retained LaMonaca Law to see if they could make this happen.

Paul’s attorney brought in a trusted private investigator to surveil Wife’s home over the course of the next three weeks.  Sure enough, the VW bus never left Wife’s driveway except to make a beer run here and there.  Wife’s boyfriend was seen walking Wife’s dog, washing Wife’s car, and taking sunset strolls on the beach with Wife.  With the PI report in hand, Paul’s attorney reached out to Wife’s attorney to indicate that Wife was cohabitating with her new beau, and as such was no longer entitled to receive her monthly alimony payments.  Wife’s attorney, the shark, said “prove it,” so that’s what Paul’s attorney did.

Paul’s team at LaMonaca Law filed a Petition to Terminate Alimony on the basis of cohabitation.  At the hearing, Wife admitted to having a boyfriend but testified that he only slept at her house once or twice per week.  On cross-examination, Wife was confronted with the PI reports contradicting her testimony.  Her credibility was shredded and there was little her attorney could do to rehabilitate her testimony.  The Judge entered an Order terminating alimony, thereby saving Paul over half a million dollars in future alimony payments.  But the story doesn’t end there.

Wife’s attorney (the shark) took an appeal of the Judge’s Order.  Wife would not be able to afford her mortgage without those alimony payments.  LaMonaca Law’s Appellate Unit was able to defend against Wife’s appeal and ensured that the trial court’s Order was upheld.  The day that the Superior Court Opinion came down, Paul tucked his kids into bed, went downstairs to his favorite chair, and poured himself a glass of expensive scotch.  Finally, the next chapter of his life could begin.

Pearl shot with Teresa Mallon and Shayne


The information above is provided for general information purposes only. It may not represent the current law in your particular jurisdiction. Nothing in this post is to be viewed as advice from LaMonaca Law or the individual author. It is not to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No one reading this post should act or refrain from acting based on the above information or information accessible through this post without first seeking the appropriate legal counsel on the particular facts and circumstances of one’s particular case from an attorney licensed to practice in one’s own state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. Any information contained within is not about nor does it include any facts about any particular client of LaMonaca Law or the individual author.

About the author

About Christopher Casserly

Chris joined the firm in 2013 after graduating from Villanova University School of Law. While at Villanova Chris focused on Family Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution. In addition, he participated in the Villanova Law Civil Justice Clinic where he advocated for indigent clients facing custody issues. Prior to attending law school, Chris received his B.A. from Providence College where he studied English and French. Chris is a Supervising Attorney and Team Leader at LaMonaca Law. Chris was named a “Top Lawyer” in Family Law by Main Line Today in 2015 and 2017, as well as a Best Lawyer in the area of Adoption in the Delaware County Daily Times. He is a member of the American Bar Association Family Law Section, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Delaware County Bar Association, where he serves as chair of the Family Law Section’s Custody Committee. When he’s not advocating for his clients, Chris enjoys cooking, all things Seinfeld-related, and being at the shore with his family and their dog, Molly.