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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 06-57


Title 255--LOCAL


Amended/Adopted Civil Rules of Procedure; S-2555 2005

[36 Pa.B. 189]

Order of Court

   And Now, this 27th day of December, 2005 at 1:15 p.m., the Court hereby approves and adopts Schuylkill County Civil Rules of Procedure No. 1915.4; hereby amends Schuylkill County Rules of Civil Procedure Nos. 1915.3, 1915.5, 1915.7, 1915.8, 1915.15; and hereby rescinds Schuylkill County Rules of Civil Procedure Nos. 1915.3A and 1915.3B. The rules are adopted and amended for use in the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania (21st Judicial District) and shall be effective 30 days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

   The Prothonotary of Schuylkill County is Ordered and Directed to do the following:

   1)  File ten (10) certified copies of this Order and Rule with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

   2)  File two (2) certified copies of this Order and Rule with the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin together with a diskette reflecting the text in the hard copy version.

   3)  File one (1) certified copy of this Order and Rule with the Pennsylvania Civil Procedural Rules Committee.

   4)  Forward one (1) copy to the Schuylkill County Law Library for publication in the Schuylkill Legal Record.

   5)  Keep continuously available for public inspection copies of this Order and Rule.

   It is further Ordered that said rules as they existed prior to the amendment are hereby repealed and annulled on the effective date of said rules as amended, but no right acquired thereunder shall be disturbed.

By the Court

President Judge

Rule 1915.3  Commencement of Action. Complaint. Order.

   (a)  The moving party shall file in the office of the Prothonotary an original and one (1) copy of all pleadings involving custody issues, including complaints, petitions for modifications, special relief or contempt and preliminary objections. The Prothonotary shall immediately transmit the original and copy to the Civil Court Administrator for assignment and scheduling. The Court Administrator will return the original to the Prothonotary and give the copy to the Conciliation Office, which will send to the moving party a copy of the scheduling order and a conciliation questionnaire. The moving party shall be responsible for service of a copy of the pleading, scheduling order and conciliation questionnaire upon all other parties pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 402.

   (b)  If a custody claim is asserted in a divorce complaint, the moving party shall, after filing the divorce with the Prothonotary, provide two (2) copies, with the appropriate order attached as per Sch.R.C.P. 1915.15, to the Civil Court Administrator for assignment and scheduling. Thereafter the pleading will be processed and served as in subsection (a) hereof.

Rule 1915.4  Prompt Disposition of Custody Cases.

   (a)  The Court shall appoint one or more person(s) as Court Conciliation Officer(s) to:

   (1)  conciliate custody cases filed with the Court;

   (2)  recommend to the Court interim Orders in appropriate custody cases which shall be in the best interest of the child;

   (3)  recommend appointment of counsel for the child;

   (4)  recommend the ordering of home studies, psychologicals, or other evaluations by expert witnesses.

   (b)  All custody matters not specifically reserved to the Court shall be promptly scheduled for a conference before the Custody Conciliation Officer. All parties shall complete the Court's custody conciliation questionnaire and attend such conference. Failure of a party to appear at the conference may provide grounds for the entry of an Interim Order.

   (c)  To facilitate the conciliation process and encourage frank, open, and meaningful exchanges between the parties and their respective counsel, statements made by the parties, or their witnesses shall not be admissible as evidence in Court. The Custody Conciliation Officer may not be a witness for any party.

   (d)  More than one (1) conciliation conference may be scheduled by the Custody Conciliation Officer, as that Officer deems necessary to conciliate the matter.

   (e)  If the parties are able to reach an agreement during the conciliation conference, the Conciliation Officer will prepare a stipulation and submit it to the parties for their signature. Upon execution of the stipulation by all parties, the Conciliation Officer will also sign indicating his or her review and shall transmit the stipulation and a proposed order to the Court for approval.

   (f)  If at the conclusion of the conciliation process the case remains contested, the Custody Conciliation Officer shall transfer the case to the Court for assignment to a Judge. As part of that transfer, the Custody Conciliation Officer shall prepare and file a report to the Court, with copies to the parties. The report shall include such information about the case as shall be directed by the Court. Any report by the Conciliation Officer will be filed with the Prothonotary, who shall seal the report to all except the Court and the parties.

   (g)  If after receiving the Conciliation Officer's report, the Court orders the parties to submit to evaluations and/or studies, the parties shall promptly comply with the Court's direction regarding the payment for and scheduling of the evaluations and studies. Following receipt of the report(s) from the expert(s), the Court will promptly schedule another conference for the parties with the Conciliation Officer. If the parties reach an agreement at this conference, they may proceed in accordance with subsection (e) hereof. If no agreement is achieved, the Conciliation Officer will proceed pursuant to subsection (f) hereof and provide the Court and parties with a supplemental report.

   (h)  Unless the Conciliation Officer's report is recommending further expert evaluations, within twenty (20) days after receiving a copy of the Conciliation Officer's report to the Court, each party shall file a pretrial memorandum, which shall include the following:

   (1)  a list of all fact witnesses;

   (2)  a list of all expert witnesses;

   (3)  issues for resolution;

   (4)  estimated length of trial;

   (5)  documentary reports from appropriate agencies;

   (6)  reports of experts intended to be called as witnesses which the Custody Conciliation Officer did not previously have in Officer's possession; and

   (7)  the manner to be utilized in presentation of expert witnesses or expert reports (i.e. stipulation of parties or presentation of testimony).

   If the Conciliation Officer's report recommends further expert evaluations, the parties' pretrial memoranda shall be filed within twenty (20) days after receiving a copy of the Conciliation Officer's supplemental report. Failure to provide the information requested timely and completely prior to trial may be grounds for excluding the evidence or witnesses at trial.

   (i)  The Court will notify the parties of the time and date for trial or may elect to first schedule a pretrial conference.

Rule 1915.5  Question of Jurisdiction or Venue. No Responsive Pleading by Defendant Required. Counterclaim.

   (a)  Only the issues set forth in Pa.R.C.P. 1915.5(a) may be raised by way of preliminary objections. Filing of preliminary objections shall be as set forth in Sch.R.C.P. 1915.3, and thereafter shall be governed by Sch.R.C.P. 1028(c).

   (b)  If a question of jurisdiction or venue is raised prior to the conciliation conference, such objections shall be referred by the Custody Conciliation Officer to the Court for disposition.

   (c)  Counterclaims, crossclaims or answers shall be filed with the Prothonotary prior to the conciliation conference, and a copy provided to the Custody Conciliation Officer.

Rule 1915.7  Consent Order.

   (a)  If the parties are able to reach an agreement prior to the conciliation conference, they may file a petition requesting that a consent order be entered and include a proposed order. The order shall be substantially in the form of the custody stipulation utilized pursuant to Sch.R.C.P. 1915.4. The parties may be required to complete a questionnaire. The Court may, in its discretion, enter an order without taking testimony.

Rule 1915.8  Physical and Mental Examination of Persons.

   (a)  The Custody Conciliation Officer shall maintain and, on request, provide counsel and the parties with a list of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and the like, who are available for consultation, evaluation, and testimony in custody matters.

   (b)  In the event that psychological studies, home studies or other evaluations are deemed necessary to a proper disposition of the matter and ordered by the Court, the cost of such studies may be assessed against the parties in a manner as determined by the Court after reviewing the report of the Custody Conciliation Officer following the conciliation conference. Such assessment will be based on what the Court believes to be in the best interest of the child and what will best facilitate the timely resolution of the matter, taking into consideration the parties' ability to pay.

Rule 1915.15  Form of Complaint. Caption. Order. Petition to Modify a Partial Custody or Visitation Order.

   (a)  In addition to the information required by Pa.R.C.P. 1915.15(a) and (b), each complaint or petition relating to child custody or visitation shall have attached to its front an order in substantially the following form:


Plaintiff : S ______
vs. :
Defendant : CUSTODY


   AND NOW, this _____ day of ______ 20 __ , at __ m., it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

   You have been sued in Court to obtain Custody, Partial Custody or Visitation of the child(ren) named in the Complaint. You are ordered to appear in person at the Custody Conciliation Office, Schuylkill County Courthouse, on ______ at ______ o'clock    .m. for a Custody Conciliation Conference.

   You are further ordered to bring with you the fully completed conciliation questionnaire provided by the Court.

   If you fail to appear as provided by this Order, an Order of Custody, Partial Custody or Visitation may be entered against you or the Court may issue a Warrant for your arrest.


Pennsylvania Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
100 South Street, P. O. Box 186, Harrisburg PA 17108

Counsel and litigants without counsel are ORDERED to immediately consult their schedules for conflicts and to promptly request a continuance where necessary because of a prior attachment or emergency situation. All requests for a continuance of a Custody Conciliation Conference must be made on the APPLICATION FOR CONTINUANCE form available from the offices of the Court Administrator, Custody Conciliator or Prothonotary in the Schuylkill County Courthouse. The application must be filed in the Custody Conciliation Office. A continuance will be granted only upon good cause shown.

   The moving party shall immediately serve on all interested parties a copy of the original pleading, this order and a custody conciliation questionnaire; and shall further file an affidavit verifying service.

   Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990: The Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County is required by law to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. For information about accessible facilities and reasonable accommodations available to disabled individuals having business before the court, please contact our office. All arrangements must be made at least 72 hours prior to any hearing or business before the court. You must attend the scheduled conference or hearing.

______ J.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 06-57. Filed for public inspection January 13, 2006, 9:00 a.m.]

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