It is recommended that you have an attorney represent you in a custody action. When a complaint for custody or modification of a current Custody Order is filed, all parties are required to attend a Child Custody Education Class presented by the Crime Victims Center of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Attendance is mandatory for all parties in an action and is reported to the Child Custody Services Office. Parties living outside of the area may contact an agency near them to attend a similar class.
If the parties to an action are unable to amicably resolve their custody issues, any party may petition the Court and ask that the matter be referred to the Child Custody Services Office for a Mediation Conference to be held.
A Mediation fee of $100.00* shall be made payable to the Prothonotary's Office upon the filing of any petition asking for a referral to the Child Custody Services Office. An Order signed by the Judge is required before a mediation conference can be scheduled. Once a Referral Order is received, a Mediation Conference will be scheduled, generally within four to six weeks of the date of the Order. The purpose of the Mediation Conference is for the parties to attempt to amicably resolve the matter. *All fees are subject to change.
If the matter is not resolved at the Custody Mediation Conference, the next step would depend on the type of case.
Procedure for Primary Custody
If the contested issue is one of Primary Custody and the Mediation Conference is unsuccessful, the Child Custody Mediator/Hearing Officer may hold a Pre-Hearing Conference to obtain information which may include interviewing mature children. A Pre-Hearing Conference may be held immediately following the Mediation Conference. Following the Pre-Hearing Conference, the Court may enter an Interim Order that will become final unless either party makes a request within 30 days for Hearing before the Court. If a request for a Hearing is made, the Court will schedule a Custody Trial.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding Custody
Where to find an attorney?
The Yellow Pages of your local telephone book. The Pennsylvania Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-692-7375 and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid Society at 724-439-3591
Where do I go if I want to do the research on my own?
The Fayette County Law Library is located on the 2nd Floor of the Fayette County Courthouse. The telephone number is 724-430-1228. The Pennsylvania Rules of Court and the Fayette County Local Rules are available for your use. The librarian may assist you in locating the rule books but is unable to provide any legal advice.
What is the Child Custody Education Class that is required for me to attend?
When a complaint for custody or modification of a current Custody Order is filed each party is required to attend a Child Custody Education Class presented by the Crime Victims Center of Fayette County. Attendance is mandatory for all parties in an action and is reported to the Child Custody Services Office. Parties living outside of the area may contact an agency near them to attend a similar class. The class offered in Fayette County is a one-time, four hour parent education seminar to help amicably formulate a custody arrangement that will meet the needs of the children involved in custody disputes. All parties in a custody action are mandated to attend this seminar; no one is singled out. The seminar is informal in nature and focuses on ways to help your child cope and accept the change in living arrangements and circumstances. The program is designed to teach effective parenting during the transitional stages of divorce and/or separation.
Do I have to have an attorney represent me?
It is recommended that you seek legal counsel to assist you with your custody case. The Child Custody Services Office is unable to provide legal advice. Therefore, any questions you may have should be directed to an attorney.
Where can I obtain a copy of my Court Order?
You may obtain copies of documents from your file in the Prothonotarys Office which is located on the 1st Floor of the Fayette County Courthouse. The telephone number is 724-430-1272.