Rule 1915.4. Prompt Disposition of Custody Cases.
(a) Initial Contact With the Court. Depending upon the procedure in the judicial district, the parties initial in-person contact with the court (including, but not limited to a conference with a conference officer pursuant to Rule 1915.4-2, a conference with a judge, conciliation, mediation and/or class/seminar) shall be scheduled to occur not later than 45 days from the filing of a complaint or petition.
(b) Listing Trials Before the Court. Depending upon the procedure in the judicial district, within 180 days of the filing of the complaint either the court shall automatically enter an order scheduling a trial before a judge or a party shall file a praecipe, motion or request for trial, except as otherwise provided in this subdivision. If it is not the practice of the court to automatically schedule trials and neither party files a praecipe, motion or request for trial within 180 days of filing of the pleading, the court shall, sua sponte or on motion of a party, dismiss the matter unless a party has been granted an extension for good cause shown, or the court finds that dismissal is not in the best interests of the child. The extension shall not exceed 60 days beyond the 180 day limit. A further reasonable extension may be granted by the court upon agreement of the parties or when the court finds, on the record, compelling circumstances for a further reasonable extension. If an extension is granted and, thereafter, neither party files a praecipe, motion or request for trial within the time period allowed by the extension, the court shall, sua sponte or on the motion of a party, dismiss the matter unless the court finds that dismissal is not in the best interests of the child. A motion to dismiss, pursuant to this rule, shall be filed and served upon the opposing party. The opposing party shall have 20 days from the date of service to file an objection. If no objection is filed, the court shall dismiss the case. Prior to a sua sponte dismissal, the court shall notify the parties of an intent to dismiss the case unless an objection is filed within 20 days of the date of the notice.
(c) Trial. Trials before a judge shall commence within 90 days of the date the scheduling order is entered. Trials and hearings shall be scheduled to be heard on consecutive days whenever possible but, if not on consecutive days, then the trial or hearing shall be concluded not later than 45 days from commencement.
(d) Prompt Decisions. The judges decision shall be entered and filed within 15 days of the date upon which the trial is concluded unless, within that time, 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 the entry of the courts decision more than 45 days after the conclusion of trial.
(e) Emergency or Special Relief. Nothing in this rule shall preclude a party from seeking, nor a court from ordering, emergency or interim special relief at any time after the commencement of the action.
For service of original process in custody, partial custody and visitation matters, see Rule 1930.4.
Rescinded June 20, 1985, effective Jan 1, 1986. Note amended Oct. 2, 1995, effective Jan.1, 1996. Replaced by new rule.
A new rule requiring prompt custody trials was recommended by a special committee established by the Pennsylvania Superior Court. That committee concluded that the interests of children who are the subjects of custody litigation would best be served by a requirement that the litigation be concluded within specific time frames.
The provisions of this Rule 1915.4 rescinded June 20, 1985, effective January 1, 1986, 15 Pa.B. 2452; amended October 2, 1995, effective January 1, 1996, 25 Pa.B. 4518; amended November 30, 2000, effective March 1, 2001, 30 Pa.B. 6423; amended July 8, 2010, effective September 6, 2010, 40 Pa.B. 4140; amended June 25, 2013, effective in 30 days on July 25, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 3936. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (351631) to (351632).
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