Rule 1915.4-2. Partial Custody. Office Conference. Hearing. Record. Exceptions. Order.
(a) Office Conference.
(1) The office conference shall be conducted by a conference officer.
(2) If the respondent fails to appear at the conference before the conference officer as directed by the court, the conference may proceed without the respondent.
(3) The conference officer may make a recommendation to the parties relating to partial custody or supervised physical custody of the child or children. If an agreement for partial custody or supervised physical custody is reached at the conference, the conference officer shall prepare a written order in conformity with the agreement for signature by the parties and submission to the court together with the officers recommendation for approval or disapproval. The court may enter an order in accordance with the agreement without hearing the parties.
(4) At the conclusion of the conference, if an agreement relating to partial custody or supervised physical custody has not been reached, the parties shall be given notice of the date, time and place of a hearing before a hearing officer, which may be the same day, but in no event shall be more than forty-five days from the date of the conference.
(1) The hearing shall be conducted by a hearing officer who must be a lawyer, and a record shall be made of the testimony. A hearing officer who is a lawyer employed by, or under contract with, a judicial district or appointed by the court shall not practice family law before a conference officer, hearing officer, or judge of the same judicial district.
(2) The hearing officer shall receive evidence and hear argument. The hearing officer may recommend to the court that the parties and/or the subject child or children submit to examination and evaluation by experts pursuant to Rule 1915.8.
(3) Within ten days of the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall file with the court and serve upon all parties a report containing a recommendation with respect to the entry of an order of partial custody or supervised physical custody. The report may be in narrative form stating the reasons for the recommendation and shall include a proposed order, including a specific schedule for partial custody or supervised physical custody.
(4) Within twenty days after the date the hearing officers report is mailed or received by the parties, whichever occurs first, any party may file exceptions to the report or any part thereof, to rulings on objections to evidence, to statements or findings of fact, to conclusions of law, or to any other matters occurring during the hearing. Each exception shall set forth a separate objection precisely and without discussion. Matters not covered by exceptions are deemed waived unless, prior to entry of the final order, leave is granted to file exceptions raising those matters. If exceptions are filed, any other party may file exceptions within twenty days of the date of service of the original exceptions.
(5) If no exceptions are filed within the twenty-day period, the court shall review the report and, if approved, enter a final order.
(6) If exceptions are filed, the court shall hear argument on the exceptions within forty-five days of the date the last party files exceptions, and enter an appropriate final order within fifteen days of argument. No motion for Post-Trial Relief may be filed to the final order.
The time for filing exceptions has been expanded from ten to twenty days. The purpose of this amendment is to provide ample opportunity for litigants and counsel to receive notice of the entry of the order, to assure commonwealth-wide consistency in calculation of time for filing and to conform to applicable general civil procedural rules.
The provisions of this Rule 1915.4-2 adopted July 15, 1994, effective January 1, 1995, 24 Pa.B. 3803; amended November 30, 2000, effective March 1, 2001, 30 Pa.B. 6423; amended August 8, 2006, effective immediately, 36 Pa.B. 4709; amended October 30, 2007, effective immediately, 37 Pa.B. 5974; amended August 1, 2013, effective September 3, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 4702; amended March 4, 2015, effective in 30 days on April 3, 2015, 45 Pa.B. 1354; amended October 19, 2021, effective January 1, 2022, 51 Pa.B. 6764. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (390562) to (390563).
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