Child Custody in Carbon County

Carbon County is a mountainous region in eastern Pennsylvania known for its deposits of anthracite coal. Over two-thirds of the county is park or game land with scenic mountains and rivers. It was founded in 1843, and its county seat, Jim Thorpe, was renamed in 1954 after the famous Olympian Jim Thorpe. It is one of the smallest counties in Pennsylvania, listed as a class six county out of a total of eight classes of counties. Its population is 65,249, based on a 2020 Census. The Carbon County Court of Common Pleas is the location for resolving all child custody issues in Carbon County.

Child custody issues often arise during the stressful period when a couple is undergoing a divorce or legal separation. An informal custody arrangement may be uncontested, but it still requires a judge's review and formal order to make it an enforceable child custody agreement. In Carbon County, the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is the courtroom for child custody cases. If you are experiencing custody issues in Carbon County, then the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can assist you in resolving those issues and protecting all your rights under the law. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us.

Where Child Custody Cases Are Heard in Carbon County

The Carbon County Court of Common Pleas is located at 4 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA, and it is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, with a break from 12 PM to 1 PM. The Court also has a Domestic Relations Office on the second floor at: 76 Susquehanna St., Jim Thorpe, PA 18229.

A child custody complaint will be filed by an interested party in the Broadway Street location and it is where the courtrooms and family court offices are located. All matters adjudicated by hearing officers and judges relating to family issues are handled by the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas. A variety of other domestic issues beyond child custody are handled in the Domestic Relations Office and include establishing paternity, locating absent parents, obtaining support orders, and financial and medical orders.

Different Types of Child Custody

The word custody refers to the legal guardian responsible for caretaking a child or children. That person is responsible for the well-being of the child over time. A party to a child custody case generally involves separated parents, but it can also include an adoptive parent, a grandparent who has been a caregiver for at least one year or who testifies to the child being at risk for neglect or abuse or a legal guardian who has given substantial care to the child over time.

The law distinguishes between two types of custody: physical and legal.

Physical custody involves the actual physical responsibility for a child's well-being on a daily basis. This includes all the physical activities involving the child, such as transport to and from school, food and shelter, medical care and appointments, and enrichment activities. Physical custody may be awarded to one person, or it may be jointly shared by parents or other guardians. Legal custody involves the legal right to make significant decisions about the child's well-being, such as decisions regarding education, religion, or medical treatment. Legal custody may be single or shared, and the legal custodian and the physical custodian may not always be the same person.

Procedures Used to Resolve Child Custody Cases in Carbon County

In order to file a Complaint for Custody in the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas, a person must be a legally interested party to the suit and have what is known as standing. Most child custody cases involve children that are at least six months old; however, in cases involving abandonment, health crises or abuse to either a child or a parent, a family court can take emergency action. A party bringing the action must fit within the guidelines of a custodial parent, grandparent, or other substantial caregivers acting as a guardian with a long-standing investment in the welfare of the child. In Carbon County, the initial Complaint is filed at the Prothonotary's Office located at the Carbon County Courthouse, 4 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229.

Child custody complaints can take months to process in the court system. In the event that a child is in immediate danger, an Emergency Petition for Special Relief can be filed in any county in Pennsylvania, and that filing is generally reviewed and ruled upon within one day of filing. This amounts to a powerful temporary order and allows for immediate relief. Emergency petitions, as well as a Petition for Expedited Relief, can also be filed at any point during a regular custody hearing process and can result in a hearing on the petition within days.

If no emergency or expedited hearings are required, then after the child custody complaint is filed and filing fees are paid in Carbon County, the hearing officer will make a disposition under Rule 1915.4 and schedule a pre-hearing conference no longer than forty-five days after the complaint or a petition to modify is filed. The focus will be on resolving issues by negotiating settlements with the parties. If the parties agree, then a consent order is entered under CARB.R.C.P.1915.7.

If no settlement agreement can be reached with the Hearing Officer, then the Hearing Officer must prepare within ten days a recommended Interim Custody Order and forward it to the Court. The order contains the date and time of the custody trial before the Court along with any party-requested or judge-requested pretrial conference. Pretrial conferences must comply with rules for procedure and a pretrial statement. If a trial is scheduled, then the Interim Custody Order directs parties to file a Pretrial statement at least 7 days before trial, containing:

  1. "A clear concise statement of the issues to be resolved by the Court;
  2. Unresolved discovery matters;
  3. Name and address of each expert whom the party intends to call at trial as a witness;
  4. Name and address of each witness the party intends to call at trial, the relationship of that witness to the party, and a statement by the party or the party's counsel that he or she has communicated with each listed witness;
  5. Issues relating to expert witnesses;
  6. List of evidentiary disputes;
  7. List of exhibits;
  8. Any agreements of the parties;
  9. Proposed Findings of Fact; and
  10. Proposed Custody Order setting forth the custody schedule requested by the party."

A hearing can be held before a family court judge or hearing officer and will follow the rules for notice, discovery, and evidence as outlined in the Carbon Courts Civil Rules. The focus of every child custody hearing is to determine what is in the best interest of the child. In all cases, the end result will be a formal child custody order that is issued by the family court judge.

Mutual Agreement and Petition to Modify

A Petition to Modify a custody order may be filed with the Prothonotary's Office in Carbon County after a custody order has been issued by the family court. Circumstances may change during the course of caring for a child, and the custodial parties may informally carry out agreements that are different from the original child custody order. Despite any informal agreements, the changes or modifications must be reviewed by the Court in order for custodians to not be held in contempt of Court for violation of court-ordered custody. It is important to remember that it is now up to the Court to determine what is in the best interests of the child under a court order, not just what parents might consider agreeable or convenient. Therefore, either a filing of mutual agreement showing a schedule of changes or a petition to modify by one party must be filed in the Carbon County system in order for the judge to reconsider and review any requests for modification in the custody order. The document must set out why any modifications or changes are in the best interest of the child. In an instance where both parties agree to the change, another hearing may not be necessary. If the request is brought by one party based on disagreement, then another hearing with witnesses and evidence will be scheduled. The Petition to Modify a custody order document is uniform throughout Pennsylvania.

Appeal of a Child Custody Order

Another option, beyond a petition to modify a custody order, is to file an appeal. An appeal must come from a final decision, which would be the final custody order of the family court. The timeline is usually 30 days from the date of the final order. The appeal is made alleging that the family court order contained legal or procedural errors or involved an abuse of judicial discretion. Appeals involve legal briefs, oral arguments, and definite costs to the appellant. The trained professionals at the LLF Family Law Team can advise you of the possible merits of an appeal from a final custody order from the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas.

Violations of Child Custody Orders by an Ex

A final court order on custody issued by the family court in Carbon County is an official and enforceable decree. Any violation of its terms is a serious offense and can amount to contempt of Court, fines, or, in extreme cases, imprisonment. In order to show that a violation has occurred, the complainant files a Petition for Contempt in Carbon County, stating the violations of the order and the reasons why the defendant should be held in contempt by the Court. If the violation has occurred more than once, the petition can request that the custody order be revised or modified to ensure that the violation of the court order will not be repeated. An example of an egregious violation would be a refusal by one parent to return a child in a case of joint custody or where the welfare of the child is endangered by the reckless acts of the violating party.

Get Help With Your Custody Issues Today

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has the experience and skills to help you with your issues regarding child custody in Carbon County. The Court will always consider the best interests of the child at all times in a custody case, and the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team will always work to support your position in obtaining the best result with your child's welfare in mind. We will do the research and gather the evidence necessary to support you and your child in relation to a desirable outcome on the terms of the child custody order and will pursue all the legal remedies available for you and your child.

If your Ex has violated the custody terms of a final order, we will help you evaluate all your options in order to enforce a contempt of court violation. If you have been accused of violating custody terms, our offices will work to present a justifiable defense to explain and preserve your concerns and disagreement over child custody terms. Our experienced attorneys can also help both parties work to reach a mutual agreement. We can also use our experience with the Carbon County Family Court to help create a custody agreement document that will be agreeable to both parties and acceptable to the Family Court judge. We are further able to evaluate, write, and argue any Family Court appeal should the circumstances justify that measure.

If you are facing a child custody issue in Carbon County, reach out to the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team offices today at 888.535.3686 or contact us to set up a confidential consultation. The well-being of your child and your family deserve it.

Contact a skilled Family Law Team Today!

The LLF Law Firm has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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