My colleague and long-suffering Mets fan, Robert Epstein, in our Roseland office wrote a blog post in July about an interesting New Jersey case. A litigant to a divorce case tried to have his daughter appear in court on his behalf through an executed Power of Attorney. It is a very interesting attempt at circumventing the Court’s requirement that litigants appear in court. As Bob points out, there are a host of issues which are impacted by using an appointed “attorney-in-fact” in a divorce case: the certification of discovery; being subject to cross-examination, and; lack of personal knowledge of the facts relevant to the case.
The New Jersey decision, Marsico v. Marsico, which is linked on Bob’s blog entry, goes into great detail about the rationale behind denying someone the opportunity to appoint an attorney-in-fact. While the question may be posed as to whether there is any real difference between what a licensed attorney can do on behalf of a client and the powers of an “attorney-in fact,” the reality is that the family court’s often rely upon the parties’ testimony and direct participation in order to assess elements such as credibility or in their reaching a finding of fact. Even attorneys require their client’s to verify pleadings, so it stands to reason that the court would decline to strictly follow an appointed attorney-in-fact and will, instead – and absent exigent circumstances – require direct participation of the parties.
Bob’s blog post gives more detail and is definitely worth taking the time to read.
(Photo Credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_andreypopov’>andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>)
Aaron Weems is an attorney and editor of the Pennsylvania Family Law Blog. Aaron is a partner in Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell, Pennsylvania office and practices throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Aaron can be reached at 610-397-7989; firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @AaronWeemsAtty.