Rule 1915.11. Appointing Childs Attorney. Child Interview. Child Attending Proceedings.
(a) Appointing Childs Attorney.
(1) Upon its own motion or a partys motion, the court may appoint an attorney to represent a child who is the subject of the action.
(2) The courts order appointing the childs attorney, as provided in Pa.R.Civ.P. 1915.19, may apportion to the parties the reasonable cost of the childs attorney.
(3) The childs attorney:
(i) shall represent the childs legal interest;
(ii) shall zealously represent the child as any other client in an attorney-client relationship; and
(iii) shall not act as the childs guardian ad litem or best interest attorney as provided in Pa.R.Civ.P. 1915.11-2.
(b) Child Interview.
(1) The court may interview a child in open court or in chambers.
(2) If the court interviews the child, the court shall conduct the childs interview on the record.
(3) If permitted by the court, a partys attorney or a party may observe the interview.
(4) As part of the interview process, the court shall permit either:
(i) the parties attorneys to question the child under the courts supervision, provided that all parties are represented by an attorney; or
(ii) a partys attorney or a self-represented party to submit to the court written questions, which the court may include in its interview.
(c) Child Attending Proceedings. Unless ordered by the court or otherwise compelled to testify on the record, a childs attendance at a conference, hearing, or trial is not required.
Pa.R.Civ.P. 1915.15(c) provides a form of order to appear at a conference or hearing in a custody action.
However, the presence of a child in court is not always necessary or desirable. The experience may be traumatic and disruptive. Consequently, the child should not be required to attend a hearing or conference in every case. When the presence of a child is required and the custodial party does not voluntarily bring the child, the court may issue an order for the childs attendance.
Subdivision (c) has been added to Pa.R.Civ.P. 1915.11 to provide that, in the absence of an order of court, a child who is the subject of the action need not be brought to a conference or a hearing before the court. The form of order to appear provided by Pa.R.Civ.P. 1915.15(c) has been revised to implement this policy.
Although the rule states that a child is not required to attend a conference, hearing, or trial, the terminology used by a judicial district may vary for these court proceedings. The rules intent is to limit the childs participation to only those proceedings in which the child will actively participate as a witness or in the courts interview.
The provisions of this Rule 1915.11 amended April 29, 1991, effective July 1, 1991, 21 Pa.B. 2337; amended August 1, 2013, effective September 3, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 4702; amended May 18, 2016, effective July 1, 2016, 46 Pa.B. 2854; amended January 20, 2022, effective April 1, 2022, 52 Pa.B. 826. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (403250) to (403251).
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