In the case of an emergency custody matter in Montgomery County. a party (whether a parent, grandparent(s), or other party under the legal doctrine of "in loco parentis" must file the "Complaint in Custody" with the Montgomery County Court Prothonotary (if it has not already been filed). (The Prothonotary is the elected civil clerk of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas and is responsible for recording all civil procedures before the Court; this includes all Family Law matters in Montgomery County Family Court.) The filing party must request that the Complaint be immediately added to the Montgomery County Family Court computer system to ensure that a Family Court judge is assigned to the custody case. Without a judge being assigned, the custody case cannot proceed further.
Where do I file for Emergency Custody in Montgomery County?
The filing party must take the Complaint or "Emergency Petition" to the Montgomery County Family Court Administrator's Office located on the second floor of the Courthouse. The Courthouse itself is located at 2 E. Airy St., Norristown, PA 19401. Family Court Administration's phone number is 610-278-3224.
The non-filing party, also known as the the "respondent" or the "defendant," must be "served" the Emergency Custody Petition in accordance with Pennsylvania law. After the defendant in a Montgomery County custody action is served the Emergency Custody Petition, the filing party, also known as the "petitioner" or the "plaintiff," must fax the "Certificate of Service" to Family Court Administration.
The Family Court Administrator will not forward the Complaint / Emergency Custody Petition / custody case to the assigned judge for review and determination with receipt of the Certificate of Service. If the judge decides that the Emergency Petition sets forth facts which require immediate action by Montgomery County Family Court, a phone conference, judge chamber's conference, or court hearing will be scheduled.
If the judge decides that the Emergency Custody Petition does not set forth facts which require immediate action, the filed pleadings will be returned to the Family Court Administrator's Office and other appropriate Court personnel for the scheduling of either an Expedited Custody Conciliation date or a Custody Conciliation scheduled in regular course; both Expedited Custody Conciliation Conferences and standard Custody Conciliation Conferences in Montgomery County will be presided over by a custody "master," which is a quasi-judicial authority with the power to issue custody orders in many instances.
What documents do I need to file for Emergency Custody in Montgomery County?
The following documents must be filed with the Montgomery County Prothonotary for consideration to be given to an emergency custody matter:
- Complaint in Custody
- Petition for Emergency Relief
- Emergency Family Court Cover Sheet
- Regular Family Court Cover Sheet
- Certificate of Service (sent to Family Court Administration if not filed with Emergency Custody Petition)
Will my custody concerns be considered a "true" emergency in Montgomery County?
Parties considering filing an Emergency Custody Petition should exercise judgment. Judges in Norristown generally believe that there are too many "regular" custody matters pending before Montgomery County Family Court to entertain anything other than a "true" emergency on an emergency or expedited basis. A "true" emergency involves the imminent harm to a child's health or well-being if the Court does not intervene, or the imminent removal of a child from the jurisdiction which would cause the child harm.
When filing an Emergency Custody petition in Montgomery County, the filing attorney must certify that a good faith effort was made to resolve the custody matter before filing the Emergency Petition
Montgomery County Emergency Custody Attorney | Norristown Emergency Custody 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 at a Emergency Custody hearing, an Expedited Custody hearing, or a standard Custody Hearing. Ultimately, whether the petitioner or respondent in a child custody case in Norristown, a Pennsylvania attorney experienced with Emergency and Expedited Custody practice and procedure at Montgomery County Family Court 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.