Philadelphia Family Court to Resume Limited Operations and Hold Video Hearings

Posted by Joseph Lento | May 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

The COVID-19 has upended people's lives across the United States, impacting employment, schools, daily routines, and also court systems.  There are glimmers of hope, however, as states begin to re-open, and attempts are made to get to business as (relative) usual. 

When Will Philadelphia Family Court Reopen?

Pennsylvania Courts are taking a similar approach, including the scheduled re-opening of Philadelphia Family Court on June 1, 2020.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ordered that while the Philadelphia Family Court building shall "remain generally closed" to the public, services and court proceedings shall be expanded as best as possible (bearing in mind the present need to re-open and also to prevent the COVID-19 crisis from becoming worse).

With that in mind, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that Philadelphia Family Court services, conferences, hearings, and court proceedings shall generally be conducted through the use of advanced communications technologies.  Philadelphia Family Court reserves the right, however, to require parties and/or attorneys and necessary witnesses to participate in person at proceedings held in the Philadelphia Family Courthouse, located at 1501 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, if necessary.

Although Philadelphia has been slow to implement court video hearings, the above is a step in the right direction as people have been largely in the dark for the past two months as to what, if anything, could be addressed by Philadelphia Family Court.

When Will My Philadelphia Family Court Case Be Heard?

A related question that has been on the minds of both plaintiffs and defendants in Philadelphia Family Court cases is when (and how) their case will be heard.  People who are involved with protection from abuse, domestic violence, custody, divorce, support, and juvenile delinquency and dependency proceedings have unfortunately had to endure their involvement in court proceedings themselves, but have also been burdened by not knowing what comes next.

As to Philadelphia Family Court, all matters that were given a "date certain" (a scheduled court date) by notice issued prior to March 16, 2020 for any date from March 17, 2020 through December 31, 2020, are administratively canceled and will be rescheduled.  Parties will receive notification of their rescheduled hearing date(s). This does not apply to cases designated as protracted, which remain as scheduled.

In sum, past scheduled court dates will be rescheduled at a later date, and court dates that are scheduled from June 1st on will be addressed at the scheduled date either remotely through the use of "advanced communications technologies" such as video hearing, or will require an in-person appearance once if the case circumstances require.

Can I Get a PFA in Philadelphia Now?

Another question that has been on the minds of people in Philadelphia is how are protection from abuse cases being addressed with the court system largely been closed.  

Thankfully, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provided specific instructions as to how Philadelphia Family Court will be required to address PFA cases from May 15, 2020, until Philadelphia Family Court is fully operational again. 

Emergency PFA relief will be available Monday through Thursday at the Stout Center for Criminal Justice, located at 1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, beginning daily at 5 PM and until 8 AM the following day, and weekends from Friday at 5 PM to the following Monday at 8 AM.

Temporary PFA hearings will be conducted through advanced communication technology from 9:30 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday (except holidays). If a Temporary PFA Order is entered, the order will be available for pickup by petitioner (or the party's attorney) from 4 PM - 5 PM Monday through Friday, in the Philadelphia Family Court lobby.  In addition,petitioners (and the party's attorney) shall receive a copy of their Temporary Order via First Class mail.

Staff in the Domestic Violence Unit will be available by phone from 8 AM - 4 PM Monday through Friday, to assist in the preparation of a Petition for Protection from Abuse.  In order to ensure there is adequate time to complete, execute,and file a verified PFA petition and participate in a hearing via advanced communication technology on the same day, it is imperative that petitioners and their attorneys contact the DV Unit between 8:00 AM and 12 PM (noon) for all necessary steps to be completed

Philadelphia Family Law Attorney to Help During COVID-19

Although it has and will remain burdensome until life gets back to normal, steps are being taken in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania to allow people to seek the recourse of the court system in family law matters.  Philadelphia Family Court now has specific instructions that it must follow both now and once the courthouse becomes further operational on June 1st. 

Our Family Law Team has helped countless family law clients through good times and bad.  This is obviously an extremely difficult time for most everyone, but people facing family law issues, now have hope that their voices can be heard.

Contact our Family Law Team and the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686 for the help needed to navigate the court system and to have your voice heard. 

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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