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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 54 Pa.B. 1806 (March 30, 2024).

231 Pa. Code Rule 1915.10. Decision. Order.

Rule 1915.10. Decision. Order.

 (a)  The court may make the decision before the testimony has been transcribed. The court shall state the reasons for its decision on the record in open court or in a written opinion or order.

   Official Note

   See 23 Pa.C.S. §  5323(d).

 (b)  The court shall enter a custody order as a separate written order or in a separate section of a written opinion.

   (1)  The court’s order shall state sufficiently specific terms to enforce the order.

   (2)  If the court has made a finding that a party or child is at risk of harm, the court’s order shall include safety provisions for the endangered party’s or child’s protection.

   (3)  The court may order that the case caption use the parties’ initials rather than the parties’ names based on the sensitive nature of the facts in the case record and the child’s best interest.

   Official Note

   See Pa.R.C.P. No. 1930.1(a).

   (4)  When drafting a written opinion or order in an action having the parties’ initials in the case caption, the court shall:

     (i)   avoid using specific identifiers for people, places, or things that may indirectly reveal the child’s identity; and

     (ii)   use generalized identifiers when describing a child’s school, activities, affiliated organizations, or other similar terms.

 (c)  A custody order shall include a notice outlining the parties’ obligations under 23 Pa.C.S. §  5337, regarding a party’s intention to relocate with a minor child.

   Official Note

   See 23 Pa.C.S. §  5323(c) and Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.17.

 (d)  A party may not file a motion for post-trial relief to an order of legal or physical custody.

Explanatory Comment—2019

   Subdivision (b) further defines and reinforces the requirements in 23 Pa.C.S. §  5323(e). Examples of safety provisions include, but are not limited to, supervised physical custody, a supervised or neutral custody exchange location, a neutral third-party present at custody exchanges, telephone or computer-facilitated contact with the child, no direct contact between the parties, third-party contact for cancellations, third-party transportation, and designating a secure, neutral location as respository for a child’s passport.

   Additionally, subdivision (b) requires a court to enter a custody order as a separate written order or in a separate section of a written opinion. The subdivision also addresses the practice of orally entering a custody order on the record without formalizing the custody order in writing. In such circumstances, the parties’ only documentation of the custody order is a transcription of the oral record. In R.L.P. v. R.F.M., 110 A.3d 201 (Pa. Super. 2015), the Superior Court held that ‘‘in order to be sufficiently specific to be enforced, an order of custody must be entered as a separate written order, or as a separate section of a written opinion.’’ Id. at 206. Despite the Superior Court’s decision, the practice of placing custody orders on the record without subsequently entering a written order has continued, which has been problematic for enforcement and understanding of the agreement’s or order’s terms.

Explanatory Comment—2021

   Subdivision (b)(3) allows the court discretion to initialize a custody action’s case caption when the child’s privacy may be compromised by the sensitive nature of the facts in the case record. When the court determines that the case caption should be initialized, additional privacy safeguards are required under subdivision (b)(4).

   Subdivision (b)(4) recognizes that inadvertent disclosure of the child’s identity and privacy may occur if the written custody order or opinion provides specific details of the child’s life (i.e., school, extracurricular activities). Subdivision (b)(4) requires that the court refrain from using specific identifiers; instead, the court should use general terms (i.e., high school, not John F. Kennedy High School). In circumstances in which name specificity is required, such as school choice, the court should consider a separate order for that issue.


   The provisions of this Rule 1915.10 amended October 19, 1983, effective January 1, 1984, 13 Pa.B. 3629; amended November 7, 1988, effective January 1, 1989, 18 Pa.B. 5323; amended August 1, 2013, effective September 3, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 4702; amended June 3, 2019, effective October 1, 2019, 49 Pa.B. 3058; amended October 22, 2020, effective January 1, 2021, 50 Pa.B. 6199. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (396977) to (396978).

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