Cases involving family law in Northampton County are heard at the Northampton County Courthouse at 669 Washington St, Easton, PA 18042. The courthouse deals with all matters relating to family law, including divorce, custody, and support.
Family Law in Northampton
The civil court at the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas deals, among other issues, with cases involving family law. Family law includes conflicts within the family, such as divorce, custody and visitation, child support, alimony, adoption, abuse, and neglect. Cases of domestic abuse may be tried in civil or criminal court, depending upon the case.
Family courts do not deal with property or will disputes.
The family law services offered by the Northampton County Common Pleas Court include:
- Child Custody and Visitation
- PFA (Protection from Abuse) Orders
- Child Support
When Can A Family Court Attorney Help?
Families facing issues involving divorce, custody, child support, adoption, alimony, or any other issue involving family law can seek the advice of an attorney, but some of the most common issues that require legal advice and representation may include:
- Requesting or contending with a PFA order
- Cases of child custody
Requesting or Contending With a PFA Order
Restraining orders are known as PFA (protection from abuse) orders in Pennsylvania. These can be requested for various reasons, from domestic violence to assault. Families or individuals who want to file for a PFA order can consult with attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Team at Lento Law Firm to understand what type of order they should file for and the evidence they need to get their order passed.
The types of PFA orders affected parties can file for in Northampton include:
- Temporary Protection Orders: These orders are used to keep two parties apart for a set period of time, usually ten days or until the final PFA hearing.
- Final Protection Orders: Final PFA orders can last for a period of up to 3 years and can only be issued if both the defendant and the plaintiff are present at the hearing.
What Does a PFA Order Include?
Once a final PFA is issued, after a hearing where a judge will examine all evidence and witnesses presented by both sides, it may last for up to 3 years. A final PFA may include the following provisions:
- The defendant is ordered not to abuse, stalk, harass, threaten, or intimidate the petitioner or their minor children. They may not use or threaten to use physical force against the petitioner or their minor children.
- The defendant can be required to give up any firearms and firearm licenses they possess to local law enforcement and be barred from obtaining any new firearms
If the defendant violates the terms of a final PFA order, they may be arrested and charged with a crime.
How to Defend Yourself Against a PFA
After a temporary PFA is ordered, a date is set for a subsequent hearing where the defendant and petitioner are both allowed to present evidence and witnesses in support of their case. This hearing must be scheduled within ten days of a temporary PFA order.
The defendant and petitioner may both have an attorney present at this hearing and can cross-examine witnesses.
While the defendant is not required to prove that they did not commit domestic or sexual abuse, having an attorney present can help their case immensely. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help you cross-examine witnesses and strengthen your case.
After the hearing and having examined the evidence provided by both sides, the judge will make a decision on whether a permanent PFI is needed. A permanent PFI can last up to 3 years.
Child Custody Issues
Sometimes families are unable to reach a mutually agreeable custody agreement and may require the court to step in. Northampton County Courthouse allows families to present custody petitions in the Motions court between 9:00 AM and 9.30 AM any weekday. The court will then share with the affected parties or their counsel dates available for conferences.
Northampton County Courthouse also offers families the opportunity to attend a program that focuses on reducing the challenges involved in shared custody, especially the impact on the child or children, known as COPE.
COPE (Co-Parenting Education Program)
The COPE program, a 90-minute counseling program that helps parents understand the impact of divorce on children, was first initiated in Northampton County in 1992. It costs $25 for each participant and is held the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 PM at the Human Services Building, 2801 Emrick Boulevard, Bethlehem, PA, 18020. The program focuses on helping parents reduce the negative effects of divorce on their children and help them understand the challenges and issues their child or children may be facing.
The Role of an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Dealing with divorce and custody disputes or other issues involving family law can be challenging and distressing. But having an experienced family law attorney by your side can make the process less confusing and daunting. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help you get through your case with the best possible outcome, no matter how challenging or complicated your case may be. Whether you are going through a divorce, need to file for a PFA, want to renegotiate custody, or have any other family law concerns, Attorney Lento can help make the process smoother and less distressing.