I never really thought about hanging out a shingle to do family law (i.e. divorce, custody, other shit having to do with kids, etc...), but a couple of new decisions in NJ have made me think otherwise...
1. Smith v. Smith, Hudson County
From the 12/1/08 NJ Law Journal Daily Briefing:
EXES CAN SUE OVER RUINED TIES TO COUPLE'S CHILDREN For the first time in New Jersey, a judge has recognized the right of parents to collect damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress when their relationships with their children are poisoned by former spouses. The issue in the Hudson County case, Smith v. Smith, is whether the emotional distress claim was a disguised complaint for alienation of affections, a cause of action New Jersey abolished in 1935. Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli ruled the emotional distress claim is separate and distinct. His ruling sets up a possible Appellate Division showdown, since a Morris County judge made an opposite ruling in August on similar facts.
So, this means that when your ex turns your kids against you by telling them you are a lousy mother, father, whateverthefuck -- so long is it "distresses" you "emotionally" you can sue the bastard (or bitch, as the case may be). Ok, there's a little more to it than that, but still...sounds like some family attorneys are about to get ritch bitch. ;) And I'm thinking maybe I should get in on the action. Because there's no way the average joe (or jane) is going to be able to prove one of these cases without professional assistance.
2. A.G.R. v. Brisman, Monmouth County
More from the NJ Lawyer Daily Briefing:
SUIT GOES FORWARD AGAINST LAWYER AND DOCTOR OVER SURROGATE-MOTHER PACT
A civil suit in Monmouth County tests the potential liability of professionals who set up surrogacy arrangements, an issue left undecided in Baby M. In A.G.R. v. Brisman, a woman who first agreed to give up her offspring but had a change of heart is suing the lawyer who set up the surrogate parenting arrangement and the doctor who handled the medical procedure. The suit, which includes counts of civil conspiracy, legal and medical malpractice and fraud, cleared its first hurdle when a judge denied a defense motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action.
OK - now this is not your typical family law case, since it involves malpractice and fraud claims and shit, but its in the same genre, or close enough anyway. Surrogacy is a "family" issue, right? And the best thing about this case (especially compared to the boo hoo you turned my kids against me case) is that this one involves defendants with deep pocket -- in other words, here's another potential troth from which we fiends can feed -- the malpractice insurers behind the doctors and lawyers who set up these surrogacy contracts. I'm kind of surprised the judge let this one pass -- cause really, where's the malpractice if the surrogate got to do what she wanted to do anyway? -- but I haven't read the case and besides, he's the judge. So if he says there's a cause of action, then until someone higher up calls him out, there's a cause of action. And potential for some money-making-money-money-making. ;) Where do I sign up?