Westmoreland County Divorce Procedures
In Westmoreland County PA an action for divorce begins a Westmoreland County Divorce Lawyer preparing and filing a Divorce Complaint with the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas and then serving it upon the defendant by certified mail. If the divorcing spouses have legal issues relating to the divorce action such as the division of marital property and debts or whether alimony should be awarded, these issues must be resolved by agreement or Order of Court prior to the entry of the Divorce Decree.
In many cases, the divorcing spouses with the help of their Westmoreland County Divorce Attorneys are able to settle the related issues and sign a formal Marriage Settlement Agreement. However, when plaintiff and defendant to a divorce action cannot come to an agreement, the parties will engage in the formal legal process of equitable distribution through the Westmoreland County Family Court. The process begins with formal exchange of documents relating to the marital assets and debts and the filing of a Marital Asset Summary Form. Thereafter, upon motion a Special Master may be appointed who is a Westmoreland County family law attorney who will conduct informal mediation sessions in an attempt to amicably resolve the economic issues.
Once the prerequisite time and papers have been filed that a Divorce Decree can be granted, a Special Master who is a Westmoreland County divorce lawyer will be appointed to conduct a hearing on the outstanding equitable distribution issues as well as the issues of interim counsel fees and alimony pendente lite (APL) and to issue a Recommended Order. If an appeal is filed, the Recommended Order as well as written legal briefs and oral argument will be considered and a final order of court will be entered by the Westmoreland County Family Court judge.
Westmoreland County Support Procedures
In Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania the plaintiff must file a Support Complaint with the Westmoreland County Domestic Relations Office to begin an action for child support or spousal support. Thereafter, a Domestic Relations Conference will be scheduled wherein a Westmoreland County Domestic Relations Officer (DRO) will utilize the Child Support Calculator from the Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System (PACSES) computer system to arrive at the PA child support guidelines, will calculate any amounts for spousal support, and will recommend the total of the two as a proposed order to the plaintiff and defendant in the support action. If an agreement cannot be reached, the DRO will enter an Interim Order and either party has the right to file an appeal for a de novo hearing before a Westmoreland County Hearing Officer.
The Hearing Officer is a Westmoreland County Support lawyer who will conduct a formal hearing with testimony taken, documents entered into evidence, and arguments made on the law made by the parties' Westmoreland County Support Attorneys. If either party is dissatisfied with the Recommendation of the Hearing Officer, an appeal to the assigned Westmoreland County Family Court judge may be taken; however, his or her decision will be based solely on the transcript of testimony, written legal briefs, and oral argument by the support lawyers.
Westmoreland County Child Custody Procedures
In Westmoreland County, a Complaint for Custody or other formal legal document must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County to begin any action for child custody, including primary custody, partial custody, visitation, grandparents' rights or modification of an existing order. Thereafter, the plaintiff and defendant in the custody action must attend the CHILD (Children Hurt in Loss through Divorce) Program provided by Comprehensive Counseling. The parties may elect to proceed through the mediation program or directly to a Custody Conciliation Conference. Each party must submit a completed Westmoreland County Parent Information Form and proof of his or her most recent earnings to the Custody Office.
A Westmoreland County Child Custody Attorney will act as the conference officer and will attempt to mediate an agreement. If no agreement is reached, he will forward to the Court a report and Recommended Order which may include recommendations for physical or mental evaluations as well as home studies as well as findings of fact and recommendations for custody/visitation. Because the Recommended Order will become a Final Order if no appeal is filed or will become the interim order pending any appeal, it is very important to be represented by a Westmoreland County Child Custody Lawyer at this proceeding.
If an appeal is filed, the assigned Westmoreland County Family Court Judge will conduct a Pre-Trial Conference to review the results of court-ordered psychological evaluations or other reports and to attempt to mediate a settlement and, if none, a custody trial is the final step in the process.
Our Westmoreland County Family Law Attorneys
Our Westmoreland County Family Law Attorneys can act as your legal guide through your family court issues including divorce, equitable distribution, child support, spousal 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 Westmoreland County family lawyers, call us today at 412-281-9906, toll free at 1-855-VARI-LAW (1-855-827-4529) or send us an e-mail. Our Pittsburgh office and Southpointe office are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and evenings by appointment. Our Cranberry Township office is open by appointment only.