Dismissal of Abuse of Process Lawsuit Arising out of Pennsylvania Custody Litigation Affirmed

Cooley & Handy won an appeal today that followed the dismissal of a frivolous “abuse of process” lawsuit filed against one of Cooley & Handy’s clients, a mother, by her ex-husband and the father of her children. The lawsuit arouse out of contentious and on-going divorce and custody litigation pending in Bucks County. Cooley & Handy also represented the mother in the custody litigation.

In the underlying custody litigation, Cooley & Handy was able to secure the mother a series of custody victories, that included court orders and agreements, in which mother was awarded additional time with her children. At every stage of the custody litigation, father vigorously opposed mother’s attempts to secure additional custody time with her children.

Frustrated by mother’s and Cooley & Handy’s success in the custody litigation, father resorted to filing a frivolous abuse of process lawsuit against Mother in Bucks County.

Father claimed that mother had abused the custody litigation process by forcing him to make what he viewed as “unwarranted custody concessions.”

On December 31, 2008 Cooley & Handy successfully convinced the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas to dismiss father’s lawsuit with prejudice. Accepting Cooley & Handy’s arguments, the court found that father could not state a claim for abuse of process based on the custody petitions that mother had filed, particularly where mother was successful on her petitions and had obtained additional time with her children.

Father appealed the Bucks County court’s decision to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. On April 7, 2010, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, after briefing and oral argument by Cooley & Handy, affirmed the trial court’s decision in full.

As a result of Cooley & Handy’s efforts and success, parents can continue to feel secure in their right to seek custody of their children without the threat of collateral litigation aimed at exhausting their emotional and financial wherewithal.