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Allegheny County Court Update – May 6, 2020

By Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,  the Judicial Emergency in the Fifth Judicial District (Allegheny County) has been extended through June 1, 2020. A summary of the Order and the relevant portions for Family Law Cases is below. The Full text of the Order is here.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA WESTERN DISTRICT

IN RE: AMENDED FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN

No. 23 WM 2020 ORDER OF COURT

AND NOW, this 6th day of May, 2020, consistent with the Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dated April 28, 2020, this Court having declared a judicial emergency in the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, this Court amends its previous Emergency Operations Orders and now orders that the actions set forth below be taken pursuant to Pa.R.J.A. No. 1952(B)(2). All provisions of this Order apply through June 1, 2020.

This Court has extended its declaration of a judicial emergency through June 1, 2020. Therefore, the judicial emergency in the Fifth Judicial District, which began on March 16, 2020, will continue through June 1, 2020.

Time Calculations and Deadlines

The suspensions of time calculations and deadlines, subject to constitutional limitations, as indicated in this Court’s previous Emergency Operations Orders, began on March 16, 2020 and will continue through June 1, 2020, absent further order of court. This suspension will have lasted 78 days.

  • Time calculations and deadlines were suspended during the judicial emergency so that they did not continue to run during that time. Upon conclusion of the judicial emergency, new deadlines shall be calculated by adding the time period of the suspension (days during which time calculations were suspended due to the judicial emergency) to the original deadline. For example, if the original deadline was March 19, 2020, and the period of suspension under the judicial emergency was 78 days, the new deadline would be June 5, 2020 (78 days after March 19th). If, however, the deadline expired before the judicial emergency began, that deadline would not be extended by the judicial emergency.
  • Postponements or continuances resulting from the judicial emergency shall be considered court postponements and shall constitute excludable time, subject to constitutional limitations for purposes of the application of Rule 600. See Commonwealth v. Bradford, 46 A.3d 693 (Pa. 2012) and Commonwealth v. Mills, 162 A. 3d 323 (Pa. 2017).
  • Attorneys and litigants shall NOT use the judicial emergency to secure strategic advantage in litigation, including by dilatory conduct. Individual judges may determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a failure to meet a deadline was not directly the result of or affected by the judicial emergency, (such as in routine discovery matters) and whether the deadline should have been met during the judicial emergency. The judge may then take any action deemed appropriate to address the situation.
  • Jury trials in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions remain suspended consistent with the April 28, 2020 Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The local judicial emergency in the Fifth Judicial District has been extended through June 1, 2020. Therefore, no court proceedings in the Fifth Judicial District relating to the dispossession of residential property, either in the Magisterial District Courts or the Court of Common Pleas, will occur before June 2, 2020. Further, any existing Order or Writ of Possession issued with respect to residential property in the Fifth Judicial District is stayed until June 2, 2020, and therefore cannot be executed or enforced until June 2, 2020.

Public Access to Court Facilities

Until further Order of Court, the Family Law Center is closed to the public.

Until June 1, 2020, the Civil Division courtrooms and offices located on the 7th and 8th floors of the City-County Building are closed to the public. The Housing Court Help Desk, located on the first floor of the City County Building, is also closed.

Until June 1, 2020, the Orphans’ Court Division, located in the Frick Building, is closed to the public.

Until June 1, 2020, the Criminal Division courtrooms and offices, located in the Allegheny County Courthouse, are closed to the public.

Until June 1, 2020, the Magisterial District Courts are closed to the public, with the exceptions set forth in the Magisterial District Courts section below.

The Pittsburgh Municipal Courts Building is open to the public for the matters and proceedings set forth in this Order.

News media shall be permitted into the Pittsburgh Municipal Court Building, but only in a manner that is consistent with public safety.

Building security and Sheriff’s Deputies assigned to the Pittsburgh Municipal Court Building are authorized to deny admission or remove a person who is visibly ill or who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID- 19, provided that they provide such person with information (telephone number or email address) to enable them to initiate, participate in, or complete necessary essential court business/functions during the judicial emergency.

Only persons with essential court business are guaranteed admission into the Pittsburgh Municipal Court Building, subject to restrictions above. Friends and family members may be required to wait outside the facility. Sheriff’s Deputies shall have the authority to limit the number of persons entering or remaining in a court facility at any given time to ensure public safety.

Methods for Conducting Proceedings, Transportation, Signatures, and Fingerprinting

  • All court proceedings will be conducted by Advanced Communication Technology (ACT), primarily through Microsoft Teams, pursuant to the protocol for teleconference hearings issued by the Court. Other audio or teleconference methods may be employed, pursuant to the protocol for teleconference hearings issued by the Court, with the approval of the Administrative Judges. See attached Protocol for Teleconference Hearings.
  • Any existing Orders for fingerprinting and the requirement for fingerprinting, except for admission into the Allegheny County Jail, are suspended during the judicial emergency.
  • Until further Order of Court, no inmates or juveniles will be transported from state correctional facilities, county jails or prisons, Shuman Detention Center, or Hartman Shelter for court hearings. Transportation for other purposes will be at the discretion of the Allegheny County Sheriff. Where the participation of the inmate or juvenile is required at a court hearing, Advanced Communication Technology shall be employed.
  • When a court reporter or other approved form of recording court proceedings is unavailable, alternative forms of recording shall be permitted.
  • Alternative methods of signing, delivery, and service of court documents and orders shall be permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, facsimile signatures, electronic signatures, proxy signatures, and designated court employees authorized to sign on behalf of a judge after the judge has reviewed and approved the document for signature. Pro se litigants completing forms at Pittsburgh Municipal Court may authorize court employees to sign documents, when necessary, for the safety of the litigants and court employees. Under such circumstances, the court employee will sign his/her name to the document indicating that the litigant has reviewed the document and that all of the information contained therein was provided by the litigant. If an employee must sign for a pro se litigant, he/she will do so in a manner allowing the litigant to see the employee sign the document.

Family Division

Child Support, Divorce, Alimony, and Equitable Distribution of Property

  • Until further Order of Court, child support payments will not be accepted in person. Child supports payments may be made by credit card, check, and/or money order. Payment coupons and instructions are available on the Fifth Judicial District website: www.alleghenycourts.us
  • Child and/or spousal support and Alimony Pendente Lite conferences and hearings scheduled between March 16, 2020 and May 11, 2020 shall be rescheduled by court order with the proceedings being scheduled effective June 8, 2020. All conferences and hearings will be conducted telephonically until further notice. A continuance Order and telephonic instructions will be sent by US Postal Mail and, when possible, by text message.
  • Effective May 11, 2020, all scheduled conferences and/or hearings shall be conducted telephonically. Litigants will receive telephonic conference/hearing instructions via US Postal Mail and, when possible, by text message.
  • All evidence being submitted for support proceedings may be submitted by text message, email, or fax prior to or during the course of the proceeding.
  • Exceptions to Hearing Officer Support Recommendations shall be filed electronically at alleghenysupporttexceptions@pacses.com. The complete “Exceptions Procedure” shall be maintained on the Fifth Judicial District website and is incorporated herein, by reference.
  • Masters’ conciliations regarding complex support and/or equitable distribution scheduled after May 4, 2020 will be rescheduled as a conciliation by teleconference.
  • Masters’ hearings scheduled after May 4, 2020 shall be converted to a conciliation.
  • Masters’ conciliations and hearings scheduled between March 16, 2020 and May 4, 2020 will be rescheduled as a conciliation by teleconference.
  • Masters’ Rules and Procedures are posted to the Fifth Judicial District website and are made applicable by this Order.
  • The Court shall continue to review and grant divorces, administratively, when all required documents are filed with the Department of Court Records.
  • Any matter may be presented to the Court by motion, without a hearing, pursuant to the judges’ procedures on the website, for entry of an Order.
  • For emergency matters involving child support, please call (412) 350- 1500, Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

Custody

  • Custody motions will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. For custody motions for new cases or cases without a judicial assignment, please contact the Court by email at:

emergencycustody@alleghenycourts.us

  • Any matter may be presented to the Court by motion, without a hearing, for entry of an Order, pursuant to the assigned judge’s procedures on the Fifth Judicial District website.
  • Please call (412) 350-1500, Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. for questions concerning other emergency custody matters.

Protection from Abuse

  • Until further Order of Court, all Temporary Protection from Abuse matters will be addressed at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court Building, 660 First Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Temporary Protection from Abuse Hearings shall be conducted generally through videoconference. If a hearing cannot be conducted through videoconference, the hearing shall be held by audio or teleconference.
  • Temporary Protection from Abuse Petitions will be addressed between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M, Monday through Friday.
  • Emergency Protection from Abuse Petitions will be addressed from 2:00 P.M. until 8:00 A.M., Monday through Friday, and 24 hours Saturday and Sunday.
  • Final Protection from Abuse Hearings are suspended until further Order of Court.
  • Temporary Orders for Protection from Abuse shall remain in effect until 15 days after the end of the judicial emergency unless otherwise indicated in the Temporary Order.
  • Until further Order of Court, Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) Complaints will not be accepted by private petition.
  • ICC Police Complaints will be accepted and bail hearings will be held before a Magisterial District Judge using Advanced Communication Technology. If a defendant is detained, a bail hearing shall be held before the judge assigned to hear the Temporary PFA Petitions.
  • Hearings on ICC Complaints are suspended until further Order of Court.
  • Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M., please call (412) 350-1500 for questions concerning Protection from Abuse.

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT COURTS COVID-19 PLAN UPDATED 5/6/2020

All Magisterial District Courts are closed. Magisterial District Judges and staff will work remotely to process essential operation functions. These essential operations include arraignments, criminal case filings and subsequent processing, issuance of search warrants and Emergency Protection from Abuse petitions.

The Police shall follow the Magisterial District Court Remote procedure. To summarize, the police will email all criminal complaints, arrest warrant requests and search warrant requests to MDJSWarrants@alleghenycourts.us. These cases will be assigned to the issuing authority or a Magisterial District Judge on duty for processing.

Emergency Protection from Abuse petitions are handled at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court facility, 660 First Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15219, Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. through 8:00 a.m., and Friday from 2:00 p.m. through Monday at 8:00 a.m.

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Emergency Order – Extended Through June 1, 2020

Today, April 28, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania entered an Order extending its March 16, 2020 Order with regard to the statewide judicial emergency through June 1, 2020.

It goes on to state that beginning May 4, 2020 unless provided by a local emergency Order Pennsylvania courts shall be open to conduct court business, but all in-person access and proceedings shall be strictly limited according to the terms of the Order or a more restrictive order issued by a local court. The courts’ priorities shall remain centered on their critical functions.

It also sets forth that in jurisdictions with prevailing local emergencies, self-effectuation extensions may be filed, however any declaration extending a local emergency beyond June 1, 2020 should provide supporting reasoning.

President Judges may restrict access to court facilities so that appropriate social distancing can be maintained. To the degree practicable in light of the necessity for some in-person appearances and proceedings…courts shall permit parties’ physical presence to be excused…all courts…are encouraged to consider deciding matters on the papers and/or to conduct court proceedings though the use of advanced communication technologies.

President Judges are given substantial discretion in connection with the enforcement of time deadlines to ensure they do not create an unreasonable risk to the health or safety of court personnel, attorneys, court users, or the general public.

Priorities of critical court functions are detailed, as are issues involving: Jury Trials, Payments, Constitutional Issues, Children’s Fast Track Appeals.

Guidance to Legal Professionals is to counsel their clients that the public health emergency can in no way be used to secure strategic advantage in litigation, including by means of dilatory conduct. In such instances it may be useful to explain the duties of a lawyer as advocate continue during the Covid-19 crisis, including the duty to expedite litigation, the duty of candor toward the tribunal, and the duty of fairness to opposing party and counsel.

The Court continues to authorize and encourage use by legal professionals of advanced communication technology to the greatest extent possible. This also permits lawyers access to their physical offices on a limited basis to render legal services that cannot be practically completed through advanced communication technology for a limited scope of timely matters involving health care, end-of-life decision making, government benefits necessary to sustain life and access healthcare and income.

Note that in Allegheny County, our local Family Court has been constantly updating local procedures since the beginning of the pandemic and as recently as Friday, May 8, 2020, implemented advanced communication measures for Judges, Hearing Officers and Masters.

Bottom line is that these are unprecedented times, and cooperation is needed from everyone. It is also realized that some matters are more urgent than others and will require immediate attention. We are fortunate locally, to have a lot of hard work being performed behind the scenes in order to better serve the residents of Allegheny County.

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Allegheny County Family Court – Pro Se Custody Motion FAQ’s

The following guidelines and electronic petition submission tool are provided to assist pro se litigants (not represented by counsel) who are experiencing a custody related emergency and would like to file a motion for the Court of Common Pleas to intervene.

If you are not represented by an attorney and would like to submit an emergency motion, you are asked to review and acknowledge your understanding of the following information before proceeding to the Electronic Request to Petition Submission tool.

  • Custody orders entered prior to the Declaration of Judicial Emergency dated March 26, 2020 shall remain in effect unless modified by the Court. Both parties should follow the provisions of the current custody order as written. If you and the other party agree to a modification, you may make that change without motioning the Court to modify the order.
  • Although school may not be in session at this time, custody orders which provide for school-time and summertime schedules should be followed as written. The summer schedule will begin when your child’s school was scheduled to close for the summer. If you and the other party agree to a modification, you may make that change without motioning the Court to modify the order.
  • If your work schedule and/or that of the other party has changed, discuss this with the other party and attempt to reach an agreement that makes sense for your family. If you both agree to change the order, you do not need to petition the Court to modify the order.
  • If there is an interruption in following the custody order due to the Coronavirus and your child is physically safe, this is not considered an emergency. You may address the interruption in the custody schedule by filing the appropriate legal paperwork when the Court resumes regular business operations.
  • If the custody matter involves an Allegheny County Family Division Juvenile Section case, please contact your attorney, CYF caseworker, or probation officer.
  • If you have an emergency regarding custody of your child/children and it does NOT involve a juvenile court case, determine if you need to contact the Office of Children, Youth, and Families and/or local law enforcement prior to proceeding with an emergency custody motion.
  • Filing a new custody complaint, a petition for modification of a current custody order or submitting a petition for contempt are not considered emergencies. These documents can be filed when the Court resumes regular business operations.

Please keep in mind that the Court may decline to grant your motion if it is determined the relief requested is not an emergency.

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Allegheny County Family Division – Latest Motions Calendars and Updated Judges Operating Procedures – April 16, 2020

Allegheny County Family Division – Latest Motions Calendars

May 2020 Calendar
June 2020 Calendar
July 2020 Calendar

Allegheny County Family Court Judges – Judicial Operating Procedures Updated April 16, 2020

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

REVISED COVID-19 Procedures – Allegheny County Family Court & Judicial Operating Procedures

REVISED COVID-19 Procedures – Allegheny County Family Court – Adult Section

REVISED COVID-19 Procedures – Allegheny County Family Court Judges – Judicial Operating Procedures

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Coronavirus Relief Act – How it can help Pittsburgh Families

From Congressman Mike Doyle:

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748),

“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will provide relief to many people in Allegheny County. Here’s how the bill will help Pittsburghers:

Unemployment Insurance – The Unemployment Insurance program will be expanded to cover part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers, and for the next four months, unemployment benefits will be increased by $600 per week in order to provide full paycheck replacement for households that have suffered job loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps taken to slow its spread. In addition, the CARES Act includes incentives for states to eliminate the usual waiting periods in order to get money to people faster. Finally, the CARES Act will provide an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits.

Direct Payments to Most Americans – The CARES Act will provide cash payments to most American households, including those who receive Social Security benefits, of $1,200 for each adult plus an additional $500 per child. The full payment will be available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married). The payments will be smaller for households with annual incomes up to $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, and individuals with incomes of more than $100,000 – and married couples with incomes of $200,000 or more – won’t get a payment.

Student Loan Relief – The CARES Act requires the Education Department to suspend monthly payments on all federally held student loans, without interest, through September 30. The bill provides tax relief for employers who implement student loan repayment programs, allowing a company to pay up to $5,250 of an employee’s student loan payments each year on a tax-free basis.

Preventing Evictions and Providing Shelter for the Homeless – The CARES Act includes more than $7 billion to help prevent evictions – and provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Small Business Assistance – The CARES Act created a $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide zero interest, forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits for paying their workers, and to help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities. The CARES Act also contains $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs – and $17 billion to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans. Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals are eligible for all of the SBA loans and grants, including refinancing existing SBA loans or a disaster loan into a PPP forgivable loan.

Essential Help for Our Health Care Providers – The CARES Act included $150 billion to help hospitals and other health care providers to pay for whatever they need to care for people infected by the coronavirus and keep their personnel safe. The funding can be used, for example, to pay for testing supplies, ventilators, personal protective equipment for health care workers, more workers, training, new construction to house patients, and emergency operation centers. The bill also includes $16 billion for new investments in the Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity, and medical research on COVID-19.

Support for Emergency Workers – The CARES Act includes $3.5 billion to help provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.

Assistance for State and Local Governments – The CARES Act also includes more than $150 billion to assist states, tribes, and local governments, as well as private non-profits performing critical and essential services, in paying for expenses related to their COVID-19 response. In addition, the bill provides $30 billion to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions so that they can continue to provide educational services to their students. It also provides $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems to help protect public health and safety while ensuring continued access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essentials. Finally, the CARES Act includes more than $6 billion for Community Development Block Grants and other economic development funding to help mitigate the local economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to slow it.

Help for Industries and Workers Hurt by the Coronavirus Outbreak – Finally, the CARES Act provides $500 billion for loans to larger businesses especially hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak and the government response. The loans are intended to help these companies weather the shutdown and keep paying their workers so those employees can pay their bills. The bill includes a number of restrictions on the loans to ensure that the loan is used as intended, such as: the companies getting the loans can’t buy back their stock or pay dividends to shareholders for the length of the loan plus one year; executive compensation can’t be increased during the life of the loan; collective bargaining agreements must be protected and complied with over the life of the loan; the loans can not go to  businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, or the heads of U.S. government departments. The bill also includes rigorous oversight measures, such as requirements for real-time public reporting of these loans, including terms, investments, or other assistance to corporations – as well as the creation of several oversight bodies including a Treasury Department Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, and a Congressional Oversight Commission.”

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Allegheny County Family Law Updates – March 25, 2020 – Divorce, Child Support & Custody

March 25, 2020 Covid-19 Updates for Allegheny County Family Law Issues – Divorce, Child Support & Custody

“Complaints for Divorce and Related Documents

Per Michael McGeever, Complaints for Divorce and related documents (e.g., Affidavit of Consent) may be filed electronically, by mail, or in-person at the Department of Court Records in the City-County Building.  DCR is open regular business hours, though operating at 50% staffing levels.

Complaints for Support

Per Pat Quinn, Complaints for Support can still be filed electronically.  This can be accessed through the state portal at www.childsupport.state.pa.us.  At this time, the complaints will not be processed until the Court is re-opened.  At some point, once we know of a definitive date for re-opening, we may process the complaints remotely and schedule conferences/hearings for when the Court opens.”

CUSTODY ORDERS – ALLEGHENY COUNTY

Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County — Update re: Custody Orders During the Fifth Judicial District Judicial Emergency and the Covid-19 Pandemic:

“Unless otherwise modified by the Court, Custody Orders in Allegheny County entered before the Judicial Emergency remain in effect and are unaffected by the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, with due consideration for the safety of the child.”

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

UPDATED Emergency Order for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas – Effective April 1, 2020 – May 8, 2020

UPDATED Emergency Order for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas – Effective April 1, 2020 – May, 8, 2020

Declaration of Judicial Emergency – COVID-19 Updated Emergency Operations Order of April 2, 2020

Consistent with the Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dated April 1, 2020, this Court having originally declared a judicial emergency in the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania through April 14, 2020, President Judge Clark now declares that the judicial emergency be extended through May 8, 2020. The Fifth Judicial District Emergency Operations Plan dated March 26, 2020, as amended, shall remain in effect through the duration of the judicial emergency.

Additionally, in recognition of the likelihood that this judicial emergency may, of necessity, be extended through May 31, 2020, it is further ORDERED that any case postponed due to this emergency be scheduled after May 31, 2020, and that the suspension of the operation of Rule 600 be applied to those postponements, subject to constitutional limitations. Cases that can be resolved entirely through the use of Advanced Communication Technology may be postponed to a date prior to May 31, 2020.

This Court having declared a judicial emergency in the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, the Court orders the following actions be taken pursuant to Pa.R.J.A. No. 1952(B)(2):

  • All time calculations for the purposes of time computation relevant to court cases or other judicial business, as well as time deadlines, are suspended subject to constitutional restrictions.
  • All provisions of this Order apply to cases scheduled from March 24, 2020 through April 14, 2020.
  • Until further Order of Court, the Family Law Center is closed to the Public.
  • Until further Order of Court, the Civil Division courtrooms and offices located on the 7th and 8th floors of the City-County Building are closed to the Public.  The Housing Court Help Desk, located on the first floor of the City County Building, is also closed.
  • Until further Order of Court, the Orphans’ Court Division located in the Frick Building is closed to the Public.
  • Until further Order of Court, the Criminal Division courtrooms and offices located in the Allegheny County Courthouse are closed to the public.
  • Until further Order of Court, the Magisterial District Courts are closed to the public, with the exceptions set forth in the Magisterial District Courts section, below. News media shall be permitted into court facilities but only in a manner that is consistent with public safety.
  • Building Security and Sheriff’s Deputies assigned to any courthouse or court facility are authorized to deny admission to or remove a person who is visibly ill or who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, provided that they provide such person with information (telephone number or email address) to enable them initiate, participate in, or complete necessary essential court business/functions during the judicial emergency.
  • Only persons with essential court business shall be permitted into court facilities. Friends and family members may be required to wait outside the facility.  The Sheriff’s Deputies shall have the authority to limit the number of persons entering or remaining in a court facility at any given time to ensure public safety.
  • All court proceedings will be conducted by Advanced Communication Technology, primarily audio or teleconference, pursuant to the protocol for teleconference hearings issued by the Court.  See attached Protocol for Teleconference Hearings.
  • Temporary Protection From Abuse Hearings and Housing Court Hearings may continue to be held by videoconference.  If a hearing cannot be conducted through videoconference, the hearing shall be held by audio or teleconference.
  • Any existing Orders for fingerprinting and the requirement for fingerprinting, except for admission into the Allegheny County Jail, are suspended during the Judicial Emergency.
  • Until further Order of Court, no inmates or juveniles will be transported from state correctional facilities, county jails or prisons, Shuman Detention Center, or Hartman Shelter.  Where the participation of the inmate or juvenile is required, advanced communication technology shall be employed.
  • When a court reporter or other approved form of recording court proceedings is unavailable, alternative forms of recording shall be permitted.
  • Alternative methods of signing, delivery and service of court documents and orders shall be permitted.  This includes, but is not limited to, facsimile signatures, electronic signatures, proxy signatures and designated court employees authorized to sign on behalf of a judge after the judge has reviewed and approved the document for signature. Pro se litigants completing forms at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court may authorize court employees to sign documents when necessary for the safety of the litigants and court employees. Under such circumstances the court employee will sign his/her name to the document indicating that the litigant has reviewed the document and that all of the information contained therein was provided by the litigant.  If an employee must sign for a pro se litigant, he/she will do so in a manner allowing the litigant to see the employee sign the document.

Family Division

Child Support, Divorce, Alimony, & Equitable Distribution of Property

Your motion will NOT be considered without this attachment

  • Until further Order of Court, child support payments will not be accepted in person. Child supports payments may be made by credit card, check and money order. Payment coupons and instructions are available on the Fifth Judicial District website: www.alleghenycourts.us
  • Scheduled conferences and hearings in support, custody, equitable distribution, and divorce are suspended until further Order of Court.
  • With the consent of the parties, any matter may be presented to the Court by motion, without a hearing, pursuant to the judges’ procedures on the website, for entry of an Order.
  • Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, for emergency matters involving child support please call (412) 350-1500, Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

Support Complaint & Modification Petition Retroactive Date for Filing – Administrative Order

Custody (Existing Custody Orders during Fifth Judicial District Judicial Emergency)

  • Effective, April 2, 2020, when submitting a motion through an assigned Judge’s emergency email address OR through the pro se (self-represented) emergency email address, a Motion Admission Form MUST be completed and submitted simultaneously with the motion. (Administrative Order of Court re: Motion Admission Forms)
  • Motion Admission Form for Attorneys
  • Motion Admission Form for Self-Represented Litigants
  • Your motion will NOT be considered without this attachment
  • Emergency custody motions will be addressed on a case by case basis.  For emergency custody motions please contact the court by email at emergencycustody@alleghenycourts.us
  • With the consent of the parties, any matter may be presented to the Court by motion, without a hearing, pursuant to the judges’ procedures on the website, for entry of an Order.
  • Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. please call (412) 350-1500 for questions concerning other emergency custody matters. 

Emergency Custody Instructions

Protection from Abuse

  • Until further Order of Court, all Temporary Protection from Abuse matters will be handled at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court Building, 660 First Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.  Proceedings will be conducted using Advanced Communication Technology.
  • Temporary Protection from Abuse Petitions will be handled between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M Monday through Friday.
  • Emergency Protection from Abuse petitions will be handled from 2:00 P.M. until 8:00 A.M. Monday through Friday and 24 hours Saturday and Sunday.
  • Final Protection from Abuse Hearings are suspended until further Order of Court.
  • Temporary Orders for Protection from Abuse shall remain in effect until fifteen (15) days after the end of the judicial emergency unless otherwise indicated in the Temporary Order.  Protection from Abuse Continuance Order
  • Until further Order of Court, Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) Complaints will not be accepted by private petition.
  • ICC Police Complaints will be accepted, and bail hearings will be held before a Magisterial District Judge using Advanced Communication Technology.  If a defendant is detained, a bail hearing shall be held before the Judge assigned to hear the Temporary PFA Petitions.
  • Hearings on ICC Complaints are suspended until further Order of Court.
  • Effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. please call (412) 350-1500 for questions concerning Protection from Abuse.

The full text of the Emergency Order can be found here: https://www.alleghenycourts.us/downloads/Administration/Covid_19Plan.pdf?V=3

CUSTODY ORDERS – ALLEGHENY COUNTY

March 24, 2020  Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County — Update re: Custody Orders During the Fifth Judicial District Judicial Emergency and the Covid-19 Pandemic:

“Unless otherwise modified by the Court, Custody Orders in Allegheny County entered before the Judicial Emergency remain in effect and are unaffected by the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, with due consideration for the safety of the child.”

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Covid-19 Child Support Issues in PA – On-Line Support Filings and Modification

Pay your Child Support Online – Make an Online Payment

If your employer is not withholding your newly court ordered child support through a wage attachment, or you have been ordered to pay your support directly to Harrisburg you are able to pay online using one of several electronic payment options which we have linked here. This option is also available if you are are not comfortable making a support payment via regular mail because of the new social distancing rules.

https://www.humanservices.state.pa.us/csws/CSWS_controller.aspx?cRQHhArIk0O9Php1qhohHcNUBjNj2emMqERrPzKJijytEHWnI_TLgD9XxKQ2JwwA@_Msq8rmjEBd96qkMotWMQiiG6VIq@BIWDT6wh0DyiMg2L5gsiqW

Request a Child Support Modification – Use This Form (OM-501) to file for Modification of Child Support On-Line

If you have a substantial change in circumstances, such as a reduction of hours worked, furlough or  loss of your job as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) mandates in PA regarding what are considered essential businesses, forced business closures or directives to stay home from work, you can file on-line to modify your support to preserve retroactivity when the courts reopen and begin addressing these unprecedented issues.

https://www.humanservices.state.pa.us/CSWS/CSWS/forms/CS_OM501_E.pdf

File a New Child Support Case on-line using the forms found here at the PA Child Support Website

If you have had an informal agreement with the parent of your child, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have indicated that they will not continue to pay you monthly child support, you are able to file a formal child support complaint, to establish retroactivity for when the family courts reopen. There are several forms you need to fill out and they are all on the PA Child Support website linked below.

https://www.humanservices.state.pa.us/CSWS/csws_controller.aspx?ue@BjBiIZmaiEgm7mBpy0Kf@WyTVHDgFaCm4tVlkziHXViVmJSvQHU668Yy9vB4Hat5FS5LUFu008f2fI7h5KY9WGBQAnebIcef6LHfe8gkRr0Y@FWS5

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.

Updated Covid-19 Allegheny County Family Division Court Procedures

Family Division

Child Support, Divorce, Alimony, & Equitable Distribution of Property

-Scheduled conferences and hearings in support, custody, equitable distribution, and divorce are suspended until further Order of Court.

-With the consent of the parties, any matter may be presented to the Court by motion, without a hearing, pursuant to the judges’ procedures on the website, for entry of an Order.

Custody

-Emergency custody motions will be addressed on a case by case basis. For emergency custody motions please contact the court by email at emergencycustody@alleghenycourts.us Monday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

-With the consent of the parties, any matter may be presented to the Court by motion, without a hearing, pursuant to the judges’ procedures on the website, for entry of an Order.

Protection from Abuse

-Until further Order of Court, all Temporary Protection from Abuse matters will be handled at the Pittsburgh Municipal Court Building, 660 First Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Proceedings will be handled using Advanced Communication Technology.

-Temporary Protection from Abuse Petitions will be handled during the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M Monday through Friday.

-Emergency Protection from Abuse petitions will be handled from 2:00 P.M. until 8:00 A.M. Monday through Friday and 24 hours Saturday and Sunday.

-Final Protection from Abuse Hearings are suspended until further Order of Court.

-Temporary Orders for Protection from Abuse shall remain in effect until fifteen (15) days after the end of the judicial emergency unless otherwise indicated in the Temporary Order.

-Until further Order of Court Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) Complaints will not be accepted by private petition.

-ICC Police Complaints will be accepted, and bail hearings will be held before a Magisterial District Judge using Advanced Communication Technology. If a defendant is detained, a bail hearing shall be held before the Judge assigned to hear the Temporary PFA Petitions.

-Hearings on ICC Complaints are suspended until further Order of Court.

As always, we provide updated links to additional Free Legal Resources which can answer many of your PA Family Law questions and we continue to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions. We are also available by phone if you have specific questions or require legal assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh Family Law attorney. Call today 412.303.9566. Video meetings and online payment.