Make an Appointment with the Lehigh County Custody Conference Office
Contact the custody conference office at thet Lehigh County Courthouse, 7th Floor, Allentown, to schedule an appointment. Prepare and file a Notice to Defend and Petition for Custody. Obtain a mediation (or custody conference) Scheduling Order. File with the Prothonotary and pay the filing fee.
Serve the Other Parent
Service may be personal through the Sheriff (this requires an additional fee). Service may also be through a combination of the U.S. Mail and Certified Mail. File the Acceptance of Service or Return of Service with the Prothonotary. Be sure to review the service of process local and state rules.
If you reach an agreement through mediation, a written agreement will be provided to both parties for review and signature. If the parties sign the agreement, an Order will be entered. If no agreement is reached, or if one of the parties is out of state, or if a PFA Order is in effect, mediation will be bypassed in favor of a custody conference. Even if retained, no attorneys may be present at mediation.
If there is a PFA Order, a parent resides out of state, or if no agreement is reached at mediation, the parties will meet with a Custody Conference Officer. Attorneys may attend this conference. If an agreement is reached, an Order will be entered thereafter. If no agreement is reached, the Custody Conference Officer will refer the matter to a Judge for trial; the Officer will also file a written report.
Parties are held to the rules of evidence, so hiring an attorney is advisable. Proposed Orders, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, along with supporting caselaw, may be required prior to trial. Witnesses must be interviewed and prepared for trial.
Additional resources provided by the author
Visit the law library at 455 W. Hamilton Street, 4th Floor, Allentown, PA.
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