Rule 1931. Family Court Rules.
(a) Actions Governed by These Rules:
(1) Divorce, Annulment, Dissolution of Marriage.
(i) Equitable Distribution.
(ii) Alimony/Alimony Pendente Lite.
(iii) Counsel Fees, Costs and Expenses.
(2) Child Custody.
(i) Legal Custody.
(ii) Physical Custody.
(iii) Partial Custody/Visitation.
(i) Child Support.
(ii) Spousal Support.
(iii) Modification and Enforcement.
(5) Protection From Abuse.
(b) Commencement of Action.
(1) Unified Family Court Docketing. All actions under these Family Court Rules which involve identical parties shall be entered on the courts docket under the same primary case number. Additional letters or numbers may be added parenthetically to specify the type of action, judge assigned or other identifying information.
(2) Custody Agreements. If, at a support proceeding, it appears that resolution of custody issues will facilitate compliance with the child support order, the conference officer, hearing officer or master may provide the parties with a form custody complaint and form custody agreement, along with information as to where to file the completed documents, the filing fee and how to contact the lawyers referral service. The support conference officer, hearing officer or master shall not participate in custody negotiations, preparation of the forms or provide legal advice.
(c) Consolidation of Family Court Matters.
(1) General Rule. Two or more actions under these Family Court Rules involving the same parties and common questions of law and/or fact shall be consolidated for hearing or trial unless the court determines that it is inappropriate or impractical to do so.
(2) Trial Continuity. Trials before a judge or hearings before a master shall be scheduled to be heard on consecutive days or within a ten (10) day period. If not completed within the time allotted, the trial or hearing shall be concluded within ninety (90) days of the date of the commencement of the trial or hearing, unless a shorter time frame is required by statute or another procedural rule.
(3) Prompt Decisions.
(i) Except as provided in subdivision (ii) below, in any matter brought under these Family Court Rules, a decision by a conference officer, master or judge shall be entered, filed and served upon counsel for the parties, or any party not represented by counsel, not later than thirty (30) days after the conference, hearing or trial concludes, unless a shorter time frame is required by statute or another procedural rule.
(ii) The time for entering and filing a decision may be extended if, within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the conference, hearing or trial, the court extends the date for such decision by order entered of record showing good cause for the extension. In no event shall an extension delay entry of the decision more than sixty (60) days after the conclusion of the conference, hearing or trial.
(d) Continuing Education for Family Court Personnel.
(1) Program Development. Courses of instruction that include, at a minimum, the following topics shall be developed or approved by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC):
(i) The substantive law and procedural aspects of the areas of law governed by these Family Court Rules;
(ii) Domestic violence;
(iii) Child development;
(iv) Family dynamics;
(v) Addictions and treatments;
(vi) Asset valuation;
(vii) Community resources.
(2) Initial Training. Within one (1) year of assignment to cases governed by these Family Court Rules, each master, hearing officer, conciliator, mediator and other court personnel designated by the president or administrative judge of each judicial district shall successfully complete the coursework developed or approved by the AOPC.
(3) Continuing Education. Each master, hearing officer, conciliator, mediator and other court personnel designated by the president or administrative judge who is assigned to cases governed by these Family Court Rules shall successfully complete six (6) hours of continuing education developed or approved by the AOPC each calendar year following the calendar year in which the initial training was completed.
(4) Compliance. The AOPC shall monitor compliance with the educational requirements of this rule.
The provisions of this Rule 1931 adopted December 17, 2002, effective immediately in the First, Fifth, Twenty-third and Forty-fifth Judicial Districts, 33 Pa.B. 13.
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