Chester County has just approved a number of changes to their local rules regarding custody matters. For all custody orders, it must be stated within the order that neither party will relocate with minor children without proper consent or court approval as required under Section 5337. For all initial complaints for custody or petitions for modification, the criminal history affidavit must be included. The non-moving party should file their criminal history affidavit within 10 days following service. After filing of the complaint or modification petition, the parties must attend an approved parenting class and provide proof of their attendance. Presently, the court approved parenting program is “Children in Between.” In some instances, the parties may also be ordered to attend a mediation session.

All temporary orders for custody should include language that it will become permanent in 180 days after filing of the underlying petition or 90 days after a conference, whichever is earlier, unless a demand for trial is filed including a certificate of trial readiness and pretrial statement. The pretrial statement must include a summary of the issues, concise statement of facts, list of all potential witnesses, exhibits that may be offered, a proposed final order, and an updated criminal history verification. An interim order shall be entered at the conference. Objections to the interim order shall be put in writing and filed with the prothonotary to be scheduled for a hearing. If the interim order would result in a change in primary custody, a request for a stay must be filed within 5 days.

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