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.