Parents in a Montgomery County child custody case often want their custody issues to be addressed and resolved by Montgomery County Family Court as soon as possible. There are circumstances, however, that require additional time before the custody case is heard by the Court. One of the earliest stages of a child custody case in Montgomery County is the Custody Master's hearing, also known as the Custody Conciliation Conference.
Custody Conciliation Conferences in Montgomery County take place at 321 Swede Street, Norristown, PA 19401. The phone number to the Custody Master's Unit is 610-278-3259.
The Custody Master's Office is located at:
Custody Conciliation Conferences in Montgomery County Will Only Be Continued in Limited Instances
Parents, and also the parents' attorneys, should understand that continuances of a Custody Master's hearing are only granted in certain, very limited situations. Situations that would be more likely to be considered by the Court to be an appropriate reason for a continuance are as follows: if either party is hospitalized or incarcerated; is summoned for jury duty; or if there is a death in the party's family or a serious medical emergency or condition. If either party's attorney has any similar issues which would interfere with the Custody Conciliation Conference from taking place, such as dealing with a personal medical issue or that of a family member, Montgomery County Family Court would most likely consider such a request by a party's attorney to also be reasonable.
If a party's attorney is "attached" in another client's matter elsewhere, this would also be considered a valid reason for a continuance. (When a court in Pennsylvania "attaches" an attorney to a matter, the court is requiring the attorney to have the matter for which the attorney is attached to take precedence over all other matters on that date.) Religious holidays or pre-paid vacations for either party or either parties' attorney may also be grounds for a continuance request upon 30 days advance notice to the Montgomery County Custody Master's Office. Ultimately, the Custody Master's Office will generally require written documentation for continuances to be granted. Attorneys are afforded consideration as deemed appropriate by the Court depending on the circumstances involved, but unrepresented parties who make a request for a continuance should expect to have to provide written documentation.
What happens if a party does not appear at a Montgomery County Custody Master's Hearing?
If the Custody Master's hearing has not been continued (either after a continuance request was made or not), and if the defendant in the custody case appears and the plaintiff in the custody case does not appear, the plaintiff's petition for custody will be dismissed. (This will generally be what takes place unless "cross-complaints" were filed; meaning that the defendant filed for custody also, which often would be in response to the plaintiff filing for custody. If the defendant also filed for custody, and the plaintiff, meaning the party who initially filed for custody, does not appear, the Custody Master can allow the defendant to present his or her case for custody.)
More specifically, if the Custody Master' hearing has not been continued, there is good service on the other party, and the filing party appears without an appearance by the other party, the Custody Master, also known as the Custody Conciliator in Montgomery County, will note the attendance in a "Custody Report" and may list the custody case for Court, or in certain circumstances, prepare and submit a proposed "Without Prejudice" Order for the Family Court Judge's consideration. Generally, this proposed Order includes a provision that the non-appearing party may file an application within 60 days to relist for a Conciliation Conference provided the parties have attended Mediation and the "Our Children First Seminar."
Montgomery County Conciliation Conference Attorney | Norristown Conciliation Conference Lawyer
The stakes can be high when Montgomery County Family Court decides the custody of a child or children. A Family Law attorney can help you achieve your goals, whether custody issues are resolved the Conciliation Conference or at trial. Whether the plaintiff or defendant in a child custody case in Norristown, and whether a parent, grandparent, or other concerned party in the child's life, a Pennsylvania attorney experienced with Montgomery County Family Court practice and procedure can help you navigate the steps required, and can provide you with the advice and advocacy needed to get your position heard and recognized. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today to learn how he can help.