Delaware County is home to over 500,000 residents and is one of the most populated counties in the state. Serving its populous in all legal matters is the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. The court, located in Media, is set up through several divisions to handle different types of cases. Cases of Family Law are handled in the division of Domestic Relations.
What To Expect In Court
When you are beginning a support case in Delaware County, there are specific procedures that must be followed. All matters of spousal support, including property division and alimony, are handled through the "Equitable Distribution" process, which will involve more direct interactions from your attorney.
Delaware County's process for dividing up property and determining spousal support is known as Equitable Distribution. There are three steps for equitable distribution to be determined. The first step is a Case Management Conference, sometimes called a Discovery Conference. To even begin, a filing for Case Management must be completed with the Office of Judicial Support. Typically this conference is only attended by counsel and deals with administrative issues and preparation and discovery motions for pre-trial conferences. The next step in the process is a Pre-Trial Conference. This Conference is also typically attended by both sides' legal counsel. Parties may be in attendance, but only for purposes of attorneys consulting with them. The pre-trial conference will work as a way of discussing and airing what will be introduced at an Equitable Distribution Hearing. The final step is the actual Equitable Distribution hearing, where debts, assets, alimony, and expenses will be settled. Hearings will rely on evidence such as appraisals, financial evaluations, and other similar documentation and testimony. At times, the process may take longer than just one hearing to resolve the issues. The overseeing Hearing Officer will try to bring the case to resolution as quickly as possible. Once a decision has been reached, the results of the hearing can be appealed to a judge.
In Delaware County, Child Support is typically determined during custody proceedings, rather than through the equitable distribution process. However, for child support complaints that occur after custody has been taken care of, a conference can be scheduled. Both parties will attend a brief domestic relations conference, to attempt to settle the matter out of court. If one of the parties disagrees with a settlement after the initial conference, it may be appealed to a Master's Hearing, or if the case does not settle at this stage, it will proceed to a Master's Hearing. Both parties can involve their legal counsel at a Master's Hearing. The Master will make a decision following the conclusion of the hearing. Either party may appeal, and it will bring the matter to a judge.
If you or a loved one is currently involved in matters of Family Law in Delaware County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.