Child Custody in Chester County

When parents separate or divorce, they have to go through the difficult and emotional process of determining which parent will care for the children, where the kids will live, and which parent will make decisions for them. In Chester County, Pennsylvania, there are many steps in the child custody process, including parenting classes and mediation. 

The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team has years of experience successfully representing Chester County residents with questions, problems, and disputes regarding child custody. We can help you navigate Chester County's child custody process and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online to find out how we can help you. 

Where Are Child Custody Cases Heard in Chester County? 

In Chester County, before filing a custody action at the Prothonotary, you have to file your pleadings at the Family Court Administration, which is located in the Chester County Justice Center at 201 West Market Street, Suite 5402, in West Chester.  

Child custody matters are generally heard by officials and judges who deal with child custody issues on a regular basis. In Chester County, Family Court Administration handles custody matters, divorces, and protection from abuse cases. The Domestic Relations office handles issues of child and spousal support. 

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody? 

There are two types of child custody: physical and legal. A parent who has physical custody of a child or children is responsible for their day-to-day care, including their food, clothing, and shelter. This parent is also responsible for making sure the children get to and from school and their activities and for getting them to their medical appointments.  

Physical custody arrangements can vary from case to case. In some instances, only one parent will have physical custody of the kids. In others, both parents might share physical custody. In some cases, one parent may have sole custody, while the other parent may only be allowed to have limited visits with the kids. Parental visits may be supervised by a court-appointed agency or monitor.  

Legal custody refers to the parent who makes decisions about the child's care and upbringing, including what religion the child practices, where the child goes to school, and what type of medical care the child receives. Legal custody can be shared between parents, or the court can award legal custody to only one parent. It's important to know that the parent who has legal custody of the kids isn't necessarily the parent who has physical custody of them.  

The experienced Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm can help ensure that your rights are protected and your voice is heard during the determination of the physical and legal custody of your kids. 

What Are the Requirements to Be Able to Seek Custody of a Child in Chester County? 

The question of who can seek custody of a child in Chester County and whether it's appropriate to bring the matter to Chester County Family Court depends on the circumstances of each case. Jurisdiction of child custody cases in Pennsylvania and in Chester County, in particular, depends on many factors.  

The first thing to look at is whether Pennsylvania is the child's "home state," which is the state where the child has lived six months prior to the start of the custody matter. At least one of the parents must also live in the state for it to be considered the child's home state. If a child is younger than six months old, the child's home state is the state the child has lived in since birth. 

If the child doesn't have a "home state," the custody matter can be filed in Chester County, Pennsylvania, if there's a "significant connection" to Pennsylvania and Chester County. A significant connection requires more than just the child's presence in the state or county. It can mean that the child's relatives live there, or the child spends a lot of time there, and it's therefore in the child's best interest for the custody matter to be brought there. Courts will use all information available to them, including information from the child's relatives, counselors, teachers, and healthcare providers. 

Where the child or children and parents or other interested parties are spread out in different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) requires the courts to communicate with each other and work together to resolve jurisdiction issues in the child's best interests. In emergency situations – such as when there's abuse or abandonment – a state can seek emergency custody to protect the child and will then work with other involved states to determine the child's home state so the custody process can move forward. 

Who can bring a custody matter in Chester County – i.e., who has standing to bring a custody case in Chester County – depends on many factors and is determined on a case-by-case basis. A parent, a grandparent, an aunt, uncle, or other relative may have standing to bring a case. It can also be someone who's been caring for the child or children and has assumed parental responsibilities for them. It could also be someone who's willing to take on parental responsibilities.  

The experienced attorneys on the LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team can help you understand the jurisdiction and standing requirements for filing your custody order in Chester County. 

What Is the Procedure Used to Resolve Child Custody Cases in Chester County? 

In Chester County, anyone filing a custody case has to follow the county's rules and file certain forms.  

Complaint for Custody 

In most cases, the first step in a child custody case in Chester County is filing a Complaint for Custody. Before filing the complaint at the Prothonotary, you first have to file your pleadings at the Family Court Administration for scheduling.  

You then have to notify the other parties to the case about your case and must include the date and time that each party has to attend the required parenting class, the date and time for the custody conciliation, the name of the mediator assigned to the case, with instructions to contact the mediator within three days. The complaint will be scheduled for mediation within 30 days of its filing, and all parties to the action have to attend parenting classes within 30 days of filing the initial complaint.  


There's a mandatory mediation orientation, and mediation itself is an informal meeting that all parties must attend. A mediator will work with you and the other parties in your case to resolve your custody issues.  

If you reach a custody agreement during mediation, the mediator will help you draft a proposed Order and submit the proposed order to the court for approval. 

Parenting Class 

All parties to the custody case have to attend Parenting Class. It's designed by the court to help you resolve your custody issues and provide you with information to help you help your kids get through the custody process. A Parent Coordinator may also be assigned to the case. The parties might agree to have one, or the court might decide that one is necessary. 

Conciliation Conference and Custody Conciliator 

The court will also appoint a custody conciliator who will work with the parties to try to reconcile their custody issues. The conciliator is a court-appointed official who has the authority to make recommendations regarding custody issues, such as who gets legal and physical custody of the kids. 

A conference with the conciliator will be scheduled no sooner than ten days after the custody case has been filed, and all parties must attend. Emergency matters may be scheduled sooner if necessary. 

At the Conciliation Conference, you'll have an opportunity to present your side of the case. The Custody Conciliator will make recommendations regarding legal and physical custody of the children and any other relevant issues. At all times, officials will consider many factors, but will always remain focused on the best interests of the children. 

The conciliator may issue an order after the conference that the parties agree to, or the conciliator recommends and submit it to the court for approval. If the conciliator's recommendations cause a change of primary custody that isn't agreed to by both parties, the objecting party has five days to request a stay of the order.  

If they do this, a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days to determine if the recommended order shall be a temporary order pending trial. If they don't file a demand for trial by the hearing date, the conciliator's recommendation will be entered as the final order. 

If the objecting party doesn't file for a stay within five days, the order will be entered. If there's no demand for trial within 90 days of the conference, the conciliator's recommended order will become the final order of the court.  

Demand for Trial  

If you want there to be a trial of the custody case, you have to file a demand for a trial within 90 days of the most recent conciliation conference. You also must file a Certificate of Readiness and a Pre-Trial Statement that sets out information, including the facts of the case, the legal issues, witnesses, exhibits, and a proposed Final Order. You have to notify the Family Court of your demand for a trial so that it can be added to the trial list. 

If the parties reach an agreement about the custody of their children and have read the order into the record, the parties can submit this Consent Order to the court within ten days of finalizing it.  

The custody process in Chester County has many requirements and can be very complicated. The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team has years of experience helping clients in Chester County and throughout Pennsylvania with child custody issues. We can help you navigate the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children. 

What if I Disagree With the Terms of a Child Custody Order in Chester County? 

At nearly every step of the process of obtaining a child custody order in Chester County, there's an opportunity to revisit the order, until the court issues a final order. For example, if you disagree with the order reached at the Conciliation Conference, you can demand a trial to revisit the issue. However, you need to know that the conciliator's order will remain in effect until the outcome of the trial – which can take months.  

If you disagree with or are dissatisfied with the final custody order, you can seek to modify the order by filing a Petition for Modification in the same way you would file a custody complaint. The court will modify the order only if it determines that it's in the best interests of the child or children to do so. 

If your case went to trial, you may be able to file a motion for reconsideration of the result or file an appeal. These courses of action have strict timelines and deadlines and require proper filings.  

The experienced attorneys on the LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team can help you determine the best course of action in your case if you disagree with your custody order or if a party to your case is seeking to overturn or modify your custody order.  

What Happens if My Ex Violates the Child Custody Order in Chester County? 

If your ex violates your custody order, you can seek to hold them in contempt of court. In Chester County, violating a custody order is a serious matter. Anyone who violates the terms of a Chester County child custody order faces the possibility of paying a hefty fine, going to jail, or both. In addition, if your ex fails to appear for the contempt hearing, the court can issue a warrant for their arrest. In order to hold your ex in contempt, you need to file a Petition for Contempt with the Court of Common Pleas. 

If your ex has violated your Chester County child custody order, and you aren't sure what to do about it, reach out to the experienced attorneys on the LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team for help. We're familiar with the ins and outs of the Chester County Family Court process, and we can help you determine the best course of action in your case.  

What if I Want to Change the Terms of a Custody Order in Chester County? 

In some circumstances, it may be possible to revise or modify your Chester County child custody order. You do this by filing a Petition for Modification with the court. In the petition, you must specifically state the modification you're seeking and the reasons why you're seeking it.  

When considering whether to modify your custody order, the court will focus on the best interests of your child or children. The court won't consider what's best or most convenient for the parents in the argument for modification. This is true even if both parents agree to the proposed modification.  

When the court receives a Petition for Modification of a custody order, the judge will hold a hearing and decide whether to grant or deny the requested modification. The judge also has the discretion to make some other change to the child custody order if the court determines that that is what's best for the child.  

If you would like to modify your Chester County child custody order or want to dispute your ex's request to modify your custody order, contact the experienced attorneys on the LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team for help.  

How the LLF Law Firm Can Help You With Custody Issues in Chester County 

The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team has years of experience helping clients with child custody issues in Chester County and throughout Pennsylvania. No matter what child custody issue you're facing, our knowledgeable attorneys will fight to protect your rights and work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children.  

If you're facing a child custody issue in Chester County, reach out to the LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team today at 888.535.3686, or contact us online to set up a consultation with an experienced member of our team.  

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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