Family Law Blog

Pittsburgh, PA, Divorce & Family Law Blog

Welcome to the blog for the Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC, an information source for Pittsburgh Family Law news, PA and Allegheny County Family Court developments and articles on specific domestic relations law topics including custody and child support updates.

Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC
2545 Railroad Street – Suite 100
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412.303.9566

Archive

Please freely browse the rest of this website for general information or call us to schedule a meeting to discuss your specific questions.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our family law attorney. We proudly serve clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County throughout Western Pennsylvania.

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.

Covid-19 Resources for Parents and Divorcing Couples

The below links are a collection of resources that may be helpful to you and your family during these uncertain and challenging times. These links contain LOTS of information and can answer many of your questions. At the same time, things are constantly evolving during this unprecedented global pandemic.

We are available to assist Parents and Divorcing Couples by explaining how your existing custody or support case may be impacted the changing directives to: shelter in place, stay home from work or work remotely and to practice social distancing.

Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC – Since 2008.

Free Phone Consultation: 412.303.9566.

Allegheny County Coronavirus Resources

Allegheny Alerts – Allegheny County Community Notification System 
Allegheny County COVID-19 web page 
Allegheny County Health Department Facebook page 
Allegheny County Health Department on Twitter 
Allegheny County Health Department online message form
Allegheny County Health Department phone line:  412-687-2243 
City of Pittsburgh COVID-19 Response Updates web page 

Pennsylvania Coronavirus Resources

Commonwealth of PA COVID-19 web page  
Commonwealth of PA phone line:  1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258)

Federal Coronavirus Resources

National Institutes of Health 
Centers for Disease Control 
Centers for Disease Control online message form 
Centers for Disease Control question phone line:  800-232-4636

Additional Coronavirus Resources

American Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Coronavirus (Covid-19) Resources and Information
Seven Guidelines for Parents – Joint Statement from AAML & AFCC
Center for Disease Control (CDC) Coronavirus (Covid-19) Resources
National Center for State Courts Coronavirus News Updates, Court Administrative Order and More Resources
National Center for State Courts – State Court Responses
NACC COVID-19 Resource Hub ACC COVID-19 Resource Hub 

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.

PA CORONAVIRUS QUESTIONS?

Questions about how the latest coronavirus closures and social distancing rules in Pennsylvania apply to your existing Pittsburgh, PA or Allegheny County family law case?

Call the Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC today (412 303 9566) for a free phone consultation for answers about child custody, child support, divorce and protection from abuse during these unprecedented times.

 

 

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Closes Courts to the Public Statewide

We strive to bring you the most up to date information about court issues as they unfold during this trying time.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court updated statewide court information last evening, March 18, 2020, effective Thursday March 19, 2020. A summary is here: http://www.pacourts.us/news-and-statistics/news?Article=1018

It reads:

“In an effort to further restrict potential COVID-19 exposure within the courts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today announced that all Pennsylvania courts – including trial and intermediate appellate courts – are closed to the public for non-essential functions through at least April 3, 2020.

The statewide court closure also includes magisterial district courts, Philadelphia Municipal Court, and Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Arraignment Division.

In addition, the Court has suspended all time calculations and deadlines relevant to court cases or other judicial business through April 3, 2020. The Court has also authorized and encouraged the use of advanced communication technology to conduct emergency court proceedings.

In the Courts of Common Pleas, the Order outlines essential functions as:

  • Emergency bail review and habeas corpus hearings;
  • Gagnon 1 hearings;
  • Bench warrant hearings pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 150;
  • Juvenile delinquency detention;
  • Juvenile emergency shelter and detention hearings;
  • Temporary protection from abuse hearings;
  • Emergency petitions for child custody;
  • Emergency petitions for guardianship;
  • Civil mental health reviews (50 P.S. §302)
  • Any pleadings or motions relating to public health concerns and involving immediate and irreparable harm; and
  • Any other function deemed by a president judge to be essential consistent with constitutional requirements.

In addition, court calendars, scheduling notices, subpoenas or other court orders compelling appearance by any attorney, litigant or other participant in non-essential cases are continued or postponed until further order.

Except for ongoing trials, jury and non-jury trials (both criminal and civil) are suspended and jurors do not need to report for duty on or before April 3, 2020.

The Court has offered the following guidance to magisterial district courts, Philadelphia Municipal Court, and Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Arraignment Division (minor courts) with regards to essential functions:

  • Preliminary arraignments (bail setting) for bailable cases;
  • Criminal case filings and subsequent processing;
  • Preliminary hearings for incarcerated persons only;
  • Issuance of search warrants; and
  • Emergency protection from abuse petitions.

The Court’s Order also directs that, during the period of judicial emergency, no eviction, ejectment or other displacement from a residence based on failure to make payment can be made. It also suspends Rule of Criminal Procedure 600 in all judicial districts.

Unless otherwise designated by a President Judge, all other cases pending are postponed.

Minor courts are directed to accept payments by mail, electronically (online), or by telephone where possible.

Additional information about the impact of COVID-19 on court operations is available online, at @pennsylvaniacourts and @PACourts.”

Links to other information are here:

PA Supreme Court – Corona virus updates

March 18, 2020 Updated Order re PA Courts

QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THE LATEST CORONAVIRUS CLOSURES AND SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES IN PENNSYLVANIA APPLY TO YOUR EXISTING PITTSBURGH, PA OR ALLEGHENY COUNTY FAMILY LAW CASE?

CALL LAW OFFICES OF SCOTT L. LEVINE, LLC TODAY FOR A FREE PHONE CONSULTATION FOR ANSWERS ABOUT CHILD CUSTODY, CHILD SUPPORT, DIVORCE AND PROTECTION FROM ABUSE DURING THESE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES.

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 Courts – COVID-19 Emergency Order

“Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Order dated March 16, 2020, President Judge Clark has declared a judicial emergency in the Fifth Judicial District from March 16, 2020 to April 14, 2020. The EMERGENCY ORDER sets forth procedures for Court Operations, including the Court of Common Pleas and the Magisterial District Courts during that period. This Order is subject to modification as the situation further develops.”

The above mentioned Emergency Order sets forth:

  • All time calculations for the purposes of time computation relevant to court cases or other judicial business, as well as time deadline, are suspended subject to constitutional restrictions.
  • Additional uses of advanced communication technology to conduct court proceedings, is authorized subject to constitutional restrictions.
  • All provisions of this Order apply to cases scheduled from March 17, 2020 through April 14, 2020.

Pertinent Parts are as follows:

Civil Division:

  • Jury Trials are suspended pending further Order of Court and non-jury trials may be suspended on a case by case basis.

Criminal Division

  • All court events, except as indicated below, in each of the criminal division courtrooms will be postponed.

Family Division – Adult Section

  • Scheduled conferences and hearings in support, custody, equitable distribution, and divorce will be postponed;
  • Protection from Abuse matters will be heard as normal.

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.

Protection from Abuse changes to PA Law

Pennsylvania law for Protection from Abuse Actions has been updated as of April 10, 2019.

The changes to the law are found at Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 1905. Pa.R.C.P. 1905 was amended with regard to the: Notice of Hearing and Order, Petition for Protection from Abuse, Temporary Protection from Abuse Order and Final Protection from Abuse Order.

Among the changes were revisions to language regarding:

  • expanded criminal penalties;
  • prohibitions on the conduct of defendant;
  • violations;
  • surrender of weapons;
  • Child Protective Services Law;
  • directive to law enforcement; and
  • custody issues.

If you or a family member needs assistance with a domestic violence matter or representation at court for a Final PFA hearing our Pittsburgh, PFA lawyers are ready to assist victims of abuse and those who have been wrongly accused. We can explain the changes to the law and how they may impact your rights and obligations.

Call for a free consultation to learn more. 412.303.9566.