How our Local Custody Laws Work
All custody cases in Westmoreland County start with the filing of a Custody Complaint and/or a Petition to Modify Custody. If a Complaint or Petition is filed, the parties will become involved in a three-step custody process.
Three step child custody process.
The First Step is a Custody Conciliation Conference.
This hearing is generally scheduled within thirty (30) to sixty (60) days of the filing of a complaint. It is conducted before a Custody Conference Officer, not a Judge.
- The Custody Conference Officer is there to help the parties reach an agreement pertaining to custody. If an agreement is reached, the Custody Conference Officer will prepare the agreement, have the parties sign and present it to the Judge.
- The custody case is effectively over after this Order is signed.
- In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement with the Custody Conference Officer, the Custody Conference Officer will prepare a recommended Order for the assigned Judge.
Normally the assigned Judge will follow the recommendations of the Custody Conference Officer and sign the proposed Order. As part of this Order, the parties will be given an opportunity to file an appeal to the second stage of the custody case.
Need help with your Westmoreland County child custody case? Contact the law offices of David K. Lucas & Associates today by calling 724-836-3300, or visit our easy to use contact page.
Step Two of the Custody Procedure
The second stage of the custody case is a Pre-Trial Conference.
- This Pre-Trial Conference typically occurs two (2) to three (3) months after the Custody Conciliation Conference.
- It is an opportunity for the Judge to meet both parties and for one final attempt to reach an agreement prior to going to a Custody Trial.
It is very important that you prepare for this Pre-Trial Conference. In the event that an agreement is reached at the Pre-Trial Conference, the Judge's staff will prepare that agreement and a new Order will be signed. In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the Pre-Trial Conference, the Judge will assign trial dates for the parties.
Step Three of the Custody Procedure
The third and final stage of a custody case is a Custody Trial.
- Some Custody Trials last one (1) day and others may last as many as ten (10) days.
The Judge will apply the custody factors contained in the Pennsylvania Statutes and determine what is in the best interest of the minor children.
Your Experienced Custody Law Attorneys
It is very important that you have a qualified child custody attorney in the event that you are engaged in a custody case in Westmoreland County.
If you have questions about child custody procedures in Westmoreland County and how to protect yourself in the event of divorce, please call our office at 724-836-3300 or visit our contact page today.