Central Pennsylvania Child Custody Court Process
Below is an example of a child custody court case in Central Pennsylvania.
Note: This example does not include deadlines, possible exceptions to each step, possible additional steps, and other possible requirements. You should consult with an attorney regarding the specifics of your case.
TEXT ONLY VERSION
At any stage, the parties may stop the process and reach an agreement.
- Parents Discuss Separation – Parties reach agreement or proceed through court
- Child Custody Complaint – Filed by either parent
- Custody Conciliation – Meeting with court appointed professional to help reach agreement
- Possible Mediation – Depending on the county, parties may attend mediation. The mediator’s goal is the same as Stage 3 – to reach an agreement. This stage may lead to a Custody Evaluation if appropriate.
- Pre-trial Statements – Includes identifying witnesses, exhibits, and potential experts
- Pre-trial Conference – Before a judge who inquires if settlement is possible. If no settlement, judge prepares case for trial
- Custody Trial Preparation – Updating exhibits and preparing witnesses. Trial outcome largely determined by preparation
- Custody Trial – Parents’ opportunity to tell their story to the judge. Includes factual testimony, exhibits, and experts, if any
- Final Custody Order – Court decides the case and enters custody order. Last step if no appeal is filed. Even if appeal is filed, this Custody Order remains in effect pending appeal
- Appellate Review – Either party may file appeal. Parties do not submit new evidence. Parties submit arguments. Appellate Court will: (1) Confirm trial court’s decision, (2) change trial court’s decision, or (3) send case back to trial court to redo all or part of the trial.