Pennsylvania Court Closures During COVID-19 Outbreak
Pennsylvania courts will remain closed to the public through April 30, 2020, with exception to specific cases, per an order by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The order includes Montgomery County Courts, which will also remain closed until the end of April and is open for emergency purposes from 9:00am to 2:00pm. This closure period does have the potential to be extended, depending on instructions from Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health and further orders by the state of Pennsylvania.
However, if you do currently have a court case, your filing deadlines, hearings, and other events may have been postponed to a later date when courts are back in session. In addition, you may be eligible for one of the emergency exceptions to the rule.
Extensions to Deadlines and Rescheduling
Per the official order, if you had a deadline between March 19, 2020, and April 30, 2020, your deadline has been extended to May 1, 2020, or to a later date if your local court allows it. This includes deadlines for pleadings or to file legal papers. Meetings and conferences with the Montgomery County Domestic Relations Court are also canceled in matters relating to divorce, separation, or annulment proceedings. As such, your divorce proceedings are currently on hold until it is safe for the court to continue with the process and they will begin rescheduling them once the court is back to a regular schedule.
Exceptions to the Court Closures
While the family law courts are generally closed to the public, they are still open for emergency matters in the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County, which includes:
Emergency Protection From Abuse Orders (PFA): Victims of domestic violence can file for a protective order for no charge with their county court. A PFA may be filed in person at the Montgomery County Court’s Filing Office from Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 1:00pm. PFA’s are available to an individual who is suffering abuse from an individual who is a family member or who the victim has an intimate relationship with.
Children’s Fast Track Appeals: If your appeal was blocked due to a court closure, you may request a Children’s Fast Track Appeal to determine dependency, guardianship, custody, parental rights, or adoption.
If you need to file for an emergency matter in the Civil, Criminal, Family and Orphans Court Divisions, please fill out a Public Health Emergency Cover Sheet and file it online. Any questions regarding this form or if you qualify for an emergency order can be directed to your family law attorney. Once it is filed, a judge will review your petition and may then contact you to confirm the details and provide his or her decision.
Contacting an Attorney
While we are living in troubling times, that does not mean all hope is lost for your case. Individuals currently in the middle of a divorce or custodial battle may have their hearings moved to a later date or be able to negotiate the matter through mediation, either by video chat or a phone call.
If you have any questions about a case or what is expected of your during this period, please contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our Montgomery County family law attorney is available by phone at (610) 645-0100 or online to discuss your case.