URGING THE ABOLITION OF MANDATORY POST-TRIAL PRACTICE IN FAMILY LAW CASES

WHEREAS, a substantial portion of delay in the ultimate resolution of divorce litigation is attributable to the passage of time required for the filing, briefing, arguing, and decision of motions for post-trial relief;

WHEREAS, the requirement for filing, briefing, and arguing post-trial motions results in an increased expense to the parties to a divorce action;

WHEREAS, available statistics indicate that post-trial proceedings result in a change in the trial court's decision in no more than five percent of the cases involved;

WHEREAS, post-trial practice in family law cases is inconsistent in that such motions are mandatory in divorce matters, but prohibited in support and custody matters. Since many divorce cases involve custody and support issues, and since these various issues are often consolidated in one proceeding, post-trial practice works at cross-purposes in these cases;

WHEREAS, divorce procedures vary from county to county throughout the state, making it confusing for practitioners to determine when post-trial motions must be filed under these different county procedures;

WHEREAS, post-trial practice iii family law matters is full of procedural traps even for the most experienced practitioners;

WHEREAS, the confusion among the matrimonial bar with regard to post-trial practice has resulted in some cases in the untimely filing of such motions and the dismissal of appeals in the Superior and Supreme Courts;

WHEREAS, the loss of appellate rights due to an attorney's failure to file timely post-trial motions creates an injustice that may cause irreparable harm to the parties and may subject attorneys to malpractice actions;

WHEREAS, trial courts have been known to delay months, and in some cases years, before deciding post-trial motions;

WHEREAS, there is a movement afoot in Pennsylvania to change post-trial practice in both civil and criminal cases in that the Civil Procedural Rules Committee has proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure governing post-trial practice in Recommendation No. 91, and the Criminal Procedural Rules Committee has done likewise;

WHEREAS, the change in post-trial practice proposed in this resolution in no way affects a party's right to file a petition for reconsideration pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1701(b)(3);

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that:

The Philadelphia Bar Association adopts the Family Law Section's Report and Recommendation to abolish mandatory post-trial practice in family law cases. The Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Domestic Relations Committee and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to adopt amendments to the Rules governing post-trial practice in family law cases whereby post-trial practice is abolished altogether or, in the alternative, post-trial practice is optional at the discretion of the parties, similar to the federal practice, and whereby the trial court shall have the option of sua sponte reconsidering its decision and shall dispose of the post-trial motion or petition for reconsideration within a sixty (60) day limit after which the motion or petition is deemed denied and the parties may proceed with the appeal.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: July 23, 1992