Delaware County is home to over 500,000 residents across its many townships. Delaware County's branch of Family Law is headquartered in the county's own Court of Common Pleas. Located in Media, PA, the Family Court is just a part of the larger Delaware County Courthouse Complex. The court itself is led by a total of 24 judges, 4 of whom are senior judges. Matters of Family Law are handled in the Domestic Relations division of the Court of Common Pleas. This division is staffed by 135 employees, all there to help smooth along the already difficult and emotional process of a Family Law case. The courts are open Monday through Friday from the hours of 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, except on holidays.
What To Expect In Court
When you wish to file for custody in Delaware County, there is a multistep process to get your case resolved. A Complaint for Custody must be filed, along with a fee for filing. The fee may not need to be paid if Custody is being filed with a Divorce filing. After the filing, an Initial Conference will be scheduled. At this conference, each side's legal counsel can present their stances on the issue. You will be present at this stage, however, most of the conference is conducted by counsel. These conferences are intended to give both sides a chance to settle out a custody agreement before taking the dispute to the courtroom. Conferences are heard out and decided upon by a court-appointed "Master." If an agreement is reached at this stage, a Temporary Custody Order form will be provided to both parties to ensure that the terms will be agreed to. Once both parties agree, the Custody Order will be finalized by the Master. This process will be used in all custody cases, unless one party demands primary or sole custody, in which case the matter must be seen by a judge.
At times, an extended hearing may be used. This hearing will be more formal than a Conference. At hearings, both parties will present evidence, testimony, and expert evaluations.
Following a hearing or conference, the Master or Hearing Officer will schedule a date when custody may be reviewed once more.
Appealing a Custody Order & Custody Trials
Although a Custody Order is meant to be final until it is reviewed once more, there is a chance for appeal of the order. The Custody Order will have a notification included that the order may be appealed within 10 days. The appeal will be reviewed by a judge, and it may even move forward to a full custody trial. Custody trials are evidentiary hearings, that will be decided upon evidence and testimony presented. The judge will use the standard of “what is best for the child” to make decisions in custody trials.
If you or a loved one is currently engaged in matters of Family Law in Delaware County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.