- February 6, 2021
- Posted by: Lee A. Schwartz, Esquire
- Category: Divorce
How to File for Child Custody in PA
Wondering how to file for child custody in Pennsylvania? This article will tell you how.
The PA child custody lawyers at Schwartz Law Firm, LLC have over forty years of experience with filing child custody in Pennsylvania and know exactly how to file for child custody in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, or Delaware County.
If you live in Philadelphia County or the surrounding counties, we can help you file for child custody. Contact us for a consultation.
Child Custody Procedure and Forms are County-Specific in PA
The following forms pertain to litigating your child custody issues. If you think you may be able to settle with the other parent without going to court, you may want to explore Alternative Dispute Resolution in PA family law. ADR is less expensive, less acrimonious, and quicker than litigating.
As a general matter, the procedure for filing a complaint for child custody in PA is
1.Complete the required forms, which will include but are not limited to:
- A Complaint for Custody. Our Firm can also prepare and file a Complaint or Petition to Modify an Order if you wish us to.
- A Confidential Information Form
- A Certificate of Compliance
- A Criminal Record/Abuse History Verification Form
- Notice to Defend
- Scheduling Order
- If you choose to represent yourself “pro se,” you will also file a Self-Represented Party Entry of Appearance.
2. File these forms and any other forms required by the county along with the filing fees.
3. Serve the filed forms on the other parent within 30 days of filing.
4. Appear in court to state your case.
How much does it cost to file for custody in PA?
The filing fee varies by county. Your county court’s website will state the current filing fee.
Can you FIle for Custody Online in PA?
Many PA counties allow efiling and one county, Lehigh County, requires efiling.
How to File for Child Custody in Philadelphia County
Philadelphia allows efiling during COVID. In addition to the general forms set forth above, Philadelphia County requires a Domestic Relations Information Sheet. The clerk of court accepts your forms for filing.
It costs $107.13 to file for custody in Philadelphia County. It costs an extra $42.68 to file for emergency custody. You can ask the court to be excused from paying the fee by filing a petition to proceed In Forma Pauperis (IFP).
How to File for Child Custody in Chester County
The Prothonotary accepts your forms for filing and the county does allow efiling. The filing fee for a Complaint in Custody is $212.25, and the filing fee for a Petition to Modify or for Contempt is $128.00. The forms Chester County requires can be found here.
How to File for Child Custody in Montgomery County
Montgomery County allows efiling, although emergency petitions must be filed in person.
The Prothonotary accepts your forms for filing. The Prothonotary website provides:
“You start the process for Custody or Visitation in Court Administration on the Second Floor. When you are finished, you come down to the Prothonotary’s Office on the First Floor to file your paperwork.”
Montgomery has published custody guidelines to be followed during the coronavirus pandemic.
How to File for Child Custody in Bucks County
The Prothonotary accepts your forms for filing. The custody filing fees in Bucks County are currently $265.75 for a Complaint for Custody/Visitation, and $51 for a Petition to Modify Child Custody, regardless of whether you file electronically or file in person. Bucks County has several county-specific forms so be sure to include them all in your filing.
How to File for Child Custody in Delaware County
The clerk of court accepts your forms for filing in person, All custody pleadings are filed in the Office of Judicial Support located in the Delaware County Government Center Building, Room 126, 201 West Front Street, Media, PA. The office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The telephone number is (610) 891-4370.
PA Child Custody Modification
Reasons for Custody Modification in PA
If you are asking the court to modify an existing child custody order, you will file all of the forms mentioned above using the following instructions on how to file a petition for modification of a custody order.
There are many valid reasons for a court to modify child custody in PA. If anything listed in the 16 child custody factors has changed, you should alert the court so that the custody order can also be changed to better support the best interests of your child.
Child Custody Laws in PA on Relocation
If you are the custodial parent and intend to relocate with your child, you must file your complaint (if you do not have an existing Custody Order) following the instructions on how to complete your Notice of Proposed Relocation With Court Case and provide the other parent with a Counter Affidavit Regarding Relocation. Our Firm can assist you with completing and filing this paperwork.
If you are not filing a complaint, you can complete and serve the Notice of Proposed Relocation Without Court Case.
Filing for Emergency Child Custody in PA
If you believe you must file for emergency custody in PA, it must be due to one of several reasons set forth by the court.
What if My Ex is Not Following the Custody Order?
You can file a Petition for Civil Contempt for Disobedience of a Court Order.
Our PA Child Custody Lawyers Can Help You Get Custody of Your Children
If you intend to file for child custody yourself, which is called representing yourself “pro se,” the PA court system provides this general resource and links to child custody forms, but you will also need to visit the site of your county courthouse to include forms and follow procedures that are specific to that county (During COVID, you cannot enter the Courthouse in Philadelphia, and all filing is done by email or by regular U.S. mail.
Child custody is too important to you and to your child to risk making mistakes. If after looking at the online resources we have provided you feel you need help with child custody in PA, call our child custody lawyers. We can help!