Beaver County Pennsylvania: Divorce Procedures
In Beaver County, Pennsylvania an action for divorce begins with the preparation of a Divorce Complaint by a Beaver County Divorce Attorney and the filing of the Divorce Complaint with the Beaver County Prothonotary. Thereafter, the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure require that the defendant be served with a copy of the Divorce Complaint by certified mail.
In most situations, the Pennsylvania divorce laws require that the division of marital property and marital debt must be resolved by agreement of the parties or order of court prior to the granting of a Divorce Decree. In many cases the division of marital property and marital debt will be resolved by a signed Marriage Settlement Agreement. However, when parties to the parties are unable to settle their property division issues, the formal legal process of Equitable Distribution will take place.
Our Beaver County Divorce Attorneys will prepare and file with the Beaver County Court an inventory and appraisement of the marital assets and marital debts. Thereafter, the Beaver County Family Court Judge will conduct a pre-trial conference with the Beaver County Divorce Lawyers which is similar to the mediation process wherein everyone's "cards are on the table" and a neutral third-party makes settlement suggestions. If successful, a Consent Order of Court is entered and, if not, the Beaver County Family Court Judge will conduct a trial on the property issues as well as any outstanding alimony issues. Once all marital property issues are resolved by agreement or Order of Court, a Beaver County Divorce Decree will be entered by the Beaver County PA Family Court Judge.
Beaver County Pennsylvania - Child Custody Procedures
All parties to a divorce or custody action, where minor children are involved, must complete the Beaver County Educational Seminar program unless excused by Family Court Order. The seminar is a four (4) hour seminar conducted by Catholic Charities at the Beaver County Courthouse.
After your Beaver County child custody lawyer filed a Child Custody Complaint or other legal paperwork initiating the custody action and the parties have attended their educational seminar, the next step is a Custody Conciliation Conference at the juvenile service center of the Beaver County Courthouse. A Custody Conference Officer (C.C.O) will be appointed to your Beaver County child custody case and will preside over the Conference. The Conference is informal in nature and no record will be taken. Your Beaver County child custody attorney will accompany you to the Conference where only the parties and their respective counsel will be permitted to participate. If it is appropriate to interview the children, only the counsel and the C.C.O. will be present during the interview. If the children are under ten years old, they need not attend the Conference unless an Order of Court is secured by either party directing such children to attend.
If an agreement is reached at the Conference, the C.C.O. will prepare an Agreed Order to be signed by all parties, their respective counsel, and the Conference Officer. An Order of Court incorporating the agreement will be signed by the Court and forwarded to all parties and their respective counsel. If additional time or information is needed or would be helpful to reach a final resolution of issues, the parties may agree to a Temporary Order which will schedule a second conference. Upon both parties agreeing to a Temporary Order, the C.C.O. will draft the Order and forward it to the Court to be issued.
If no agreement is reached, the Custody Conciliation Officer will make a report and Recommendation to the Court within 5 days of the Conference based on the Conference with the parties. Upon receiving and reviewing the report, the Court will issue a Proposed Order which will be mailed to counsel, or the party if unrepresented. The Proposed Order becomes a Final Order unless Exceptions are filed by either party within twenty (20) days of the effective date in the Proposed Order. If one or both parties file Exceptions, the Proposed Order will become a Temporary Order pending the court hearing.
If you are unsatisfied with the Proposed Order issued by the Court, your Beaver County Child Custody Attorney will prepare and file Exceptions Brief and a Certificate of Readiness for Trial stating the specific portions of the proposed order to which you object. The Exceptions will then be filed with the Prothonotary and copies will be delivered to the Court Administrator's Office, the conference officer, the parties or their Beaver County custody lawyer and the Beaver County Family Court Judge.
After Exceptions are filed, the Beaver County Judge to whom the case is assigned will send out a notice for a Pre-Hearing Conference. Before the Pre-Hearing Conference, each party through their Beaver County child custody lawyers must file a Pre-Hearing Statement. Counsel only will meet with the Judge in chambers at the time of the Pre-Trial Conference; however, parties must be present in the courthouse. The purpose of the Pre-Trial Conference is to facilitate settlement. If no settlement is reached, a hearing is scheduled.
The Custody trial is a formal proceeding with a stenographer taking a record of the testimony. Generally, the court hears all the adult testimony first in the courtroom. Then, the child or children (one at a time) are interviewed in the Judge's chambers with counsel and the stenographer present.
Our Beaver County child custody attorneys will guide you through the process of obtaining a child custody order, as well as settling any connected matters such as custody modification for relocation, child Support, spousal support, divorce or equitable distribution.
Beaver County Pennsylvania: Child & Spousal Support Procedures
In Beaver County, to begin the process to receive child support, spousal support, or alimony pendente lite (APL), an initial intake form will be completed by your Beaver County Support Lawyers and filed at the Domestic Relations Office of the Beaver County Courthouse. Notice of a support hearing will be sent to the parties by mail. At this stage, your Beaver County Support Attorney will work with you to gather information and attempt, if possible, to settle the support issues with the opposing party. If a pre-conference settlement is not reached, a Beaver County Domestic Relations Officer (DRO) will conduct an informal conference and attempt to mediate a consent order of court. If an agreement cannot be reached, the DRO will issue an Interim Order and a wage attachment will be issued against the defendant's income.
If either the plaintiff or defendant in the support action is unsatisfied with the terms of the Interim Order, their Beaver County Support Attorney will file a Petition for a de novo hearing before a Hearing Officer. A de novo hearing is a formal hearing conducted by a Beaver County Support Lawyer to act as a Hearing Officer who will issue a recommendation to the Family Court Judge based on the PA Child Support Guidelines or PA Spousal Support Guidelines.
Either the plaintiff or defendant may file exceptions to the Hearing Officer's recommendations and a hearing will be conducted on the support issues by a Beaver County Family Court Judge. However, no new testimony or new exhibits will be permitted at the hearing. The Beaver County Judge will make his or her decision solely on the basis of the transcript from the Hearing Officer's proceeding as well as written briefs and oral argument by the Beaver County Support Lawyers.
Enforcement of child support orders is by state wide Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System (PACSES). The PACSES website provides a child support calculator that anyone may use, free of charge, to estimate the amount of PA child support they may have to pay or receive as well as providing information regarding the status of support payments made by the defendant.
Our Beaver County Family Law Attorneys
Our Beaver County Divorce and Family Law Attorneys will guide you through the process of obtaining a PA Divorce Decree, as well resolution of any connected matters such as spousal support, alimony pendent lite (APL), alimony, division of marital property through equitable distribution, child support and child custody.
To learn more about our Pennsylvania family law firm, and to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our experienced Beaver County family lawyers, call us today at 412-339-2491, toll free at 855-VARI-LAW (855-827-4529) or send us an e-mail. Our Pittsburgh office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and evenings by appointment. Our New Castle and Cranberry Township offices are open by appointment only.
Appointments are also available by telephone, Skype internet video chat and in several meeting locations in the following areas: Cranberry Township, Robinson Township, Mt. Lebanon (near South Hills Village) and Pleasant Hills (near Century III Mall). Ask the secretary scheduling your appointment for details including appointment locations.