Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Emergency Extension – Family Division
ANY type family pleadings, excepting DRO filings, may now again be lodged of-record with the Delaware County Office of Judicial Support either via the office’s drop box located at the courthouse’s front entrance and/or through mailing addressed as follows: Delaware County Judicial Support Office – 201 West Front Street, Media, PA 19063. The filing party remains responsible for the contemporaneous payment of fees and/or costs. Questions about fees and/or costs, as well as accepted forms of payment, may be directed to (610) 891-4224 and/or (610) 891-8766.
DRO matters (E.g. Complaints for support – petitions to modify) can continue to be lodged through the PACSES e-filing found on the Pennsylvania Child Support website. (The link is available on the Delaware County court website). DRO pleadings can be directly filed with the Delaware County Domestic Relations Office by email – firstname.lastname@example.org or traditional mail addressed as follows: Domestic Relations – P.O. Box 543, Media, Pennsylvania, 19063. Anyone needing assistance with any type and/or manner of lodging can contact the Delaware County Domestic Relations office at email@example.com.
Although all types of family filings may once again be lodged, the processing of these filings, as well as the resultant listing of hearings may, in light of the ongoing public health crisis, be modestly delayed.
Excepting the juvenile court, the other four (4) judges of the family section have been temporarily organized into two (2) subgroups as follows: Judges Cartisano and Rashid; and Judges Mackrides and Klein. On any day of the week no more than two (2) family judges will be contemporaneously in session, unless there is some emergent need for another courtroom to be operational approved.
Hearings as the assigned family judge believes appropriate will once more be scheduled, including but not limited to arguments, contested pre-trial evidentiary hearings and/or trials. ALL these listings for now will be just those cases reasonably expected to conclude within at most a few days. Such schedulings, may be conducted as the designated judge believes proper through both some manner of ACT and/or in-person. (E.g. A witness appearing via video conferencing while the lawyers are in-person before the presiding judge.)
At present, there will be no in-person appearance involving inmates of any county, state, and/or federal penal facility before the family courts, but rather ALL listings where a party and/or witness is incarcerated any such person will participate through some ACT means, assuming the prisoner party’s agreement. ALL inmate witnesses MUST for now appear via ACT. ANY prisoner of a county, state, and/or federal correctional institution being a named party and wanting to proceed with an in-person listing will have their matter continued for at least thirty (30) days with the hope the currently ongoing public health crisis, particularly relative to those attendant concerns developing in southeastern Pennsylvania, including but not limited to Delaware County, would have then sufficiently abated to safely allow for the prisoner’s custodial transportation in related in-person appearance before the court.
On ANY day the judicial family teams have in-person schedulings, the two (2) judges then sitting will have start times staggered by at least thirty (30) minutes. There is now a limit of no more than ten (10) interested parties (I.e. litigants, and/or counsel) permitted in-person attendance per a given family courtroom.
Temporary protection from abuse petitions (“PFA”) can continue to be filed with the Delaware County Judicial Support Office and will be heard during the courthouse’s regular business hours by the family motion judge. (Magisterial district judges remain available for review of emergency protection from abuse applications after hours and weekends through telephone call to the local police or the county’s emergency communication center via dialing 911.)
The protection from abuse master until further notice will not sit.
Protection from abuse lists (PFA) will proceed with an interim family master calendar on the following dates: June 4, 2020; June 10, 2020; June 18, 2020; June 25, 2020; July 2, 2020; July 9, 2020; July 16, 2020; July 22, 2020; and July 30, 2020. These PFA lists will be divided among a number of judges and coordinated through both family liaison judge and District Court Administrator to assure there is as best possible currently recommended “social distancing” and/or a recognition of ALL other federal and/or state governmental directives about stemming COVID-19 spread.
ALL such emergency filings from the present through July 31, 2020, will be forwarded to the assigned judge. The judge will first attempt to settle the dispute by an of-record telephone conference with the attorneys and/or self-represented parties. If the parties do not reach a conference agreement, the judge may schedule a court hearing, but only as to those emergent motions and/or petitions the judge believes constitute true emergency circumstances. If the judge believes an emergent hearing should be held, those proceedings may at the court’s discretion be conducted via ACT, particularly if the assigned judge is not listed to sit that week. Should the judge determine an emergency hearing must be conducted and at least some interested parties will be appearing in-person (E.g. The attorneys are present in court before the judge while the parties participate through some form of ACT), the family liaison judge and District Court Administrator will assure there is staggered scheduling, as well as recommended precautions in place regarding “social distancing,” in addition to ALL other federal and/or state governmental guidance to counter COVID-19 virus spread, including but not limited to the wearing of a mask and/or prompt surface area disinfecting.
Family judges may schedule pretrial – case management conferences as believed appropriate. ANY conferences on a day that the judge is not scheduled and/or otherwise has access to the operational family courtrooms MUST be held with all parties participating via some manner of ACT.
Family Section (Special Relief) List Days will be scheduled at the assigned judge’s discretion. Hearings on special relief filings held solely through available ACT, with counsel, as well as their clients, and/or self-represented parties, may be set as the presiding judge’s calendar allows.
The Family Court Administrator’s Office will continue to regularly make available those divorce actions otherwise ready for review by the Divorce Administrator. The Divorce Administrator will examine all such matters and promptly make to the court a next course of appropriately proceeding recommendation.
The Domestic Relations Office (DRO) will continue utilizing ACT conferences with non-custodial parents past listed for contempt proceedings to determine for such possible enforcement action current employment status. DRO personnel will promptly hold establishment conferences beginning with the earliest complaint lodging date and where the non-custodial parent is alleged to have an income source.
The director of DRO will continue to finalize by mid-June 2020 a plan to shortly resume DRO master hearings, which will otherwise remain in abeyance.
The court will continue making reasonable efforts to keep scheduling ad-hoc lists of DRO appeals and/or contempts while efforts remain ongoing between the family court and DRO upper management to develop a systematized plan for the DRO appeal and/or contempt matters being set in a weekly recurring manner.
The motion judge will continue to hold by video conferencing as needed seventy-two (72) hour Domestic Relations hearings.
The equitable distribution masters will continue to conduct via available ACT pretrial conferences and/or discovery conferences. The court will provide counsel and/or self-represented parties no less than five (5) days advanced notice via email as to any such listing’s scheduling.
As reasonably soon as the court may list the same, the custody masters from the present through and including July 31, 2020, will conduct by available ACT pretrial conferences and/or discovery conferences. The court will provide the attorneys and/or self-represented litigants no less than five (5) days advanced notice by email as to any such listing’s scheduling.
ALL parties whether pro se or represented by an attorney MUST meaningfully engage in good faith discovery consistent with ANY AND ALL such salient trial court orders and/or directives, including but not limited to depositions conducted to the extent practicable via some manner of available advanced communication technology (ACT), subject to applicable constitutional limitations, if any.