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THE COURTS

PART I. GENERAL

[ 231 PA. CODE CHS. 1910, 1915 AND 1920 ]

Order Amending Rules 1910.10, 1915.4-1 and 1920.55-1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure; No. 651 Civil Procedural Rules Doc.

[46 Pa.B. 6819]
[Saturday, October 29, 2016]

Order

Per Curiam

And Now, this 14th day of October, 2016, upon the recommendation of the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee; the proposal having been submitted without publication pursuant to Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(a)(3):

It Is Ordered pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania that Rules 1910.10, 1915.4-1 and 1920.55-1 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure are amended in the following form.

 This Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective on December 1, 2016.

Annex A

TITLE 231. RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE

PART I. GENERAL

CHAPTER 1910. ACTIONS FOR SUPPORT

Rule 1910.10. Alternative Hearing Procedures.

 (a) The action shall proceed as prescribed by Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.11 unless the court by local rule adopts the alternative hearing procedure of Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.12.

 (b) The president judge or the administrative judge of Family Division of each county shall certify that all support proceedings in that county are conducted in accordance with either Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.11 or Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.12. The certification shall be filed with the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee, and shall be substantially in the following form:

 I hereby certify that ______ County conducts its support proceedings in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. No. ______ .


(PRESIDENT JUDGE)   (ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE)

[Official Note: Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.10, the following counties have certified to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee that their support proceedings are conducted in accordance with the rule specified below.

Adams 1910.11
Allegheny 1910.12
Armstrong 1910.12
Beaver 1910.11
Bedford 1910.11
Berks 1910.12
Blair 1910.11
Bradford 1910.12
Bucks 1910.11
Butler 1910.11
Cambria 1910.12
Cameron 1910.11
Carbon 1910.12
Centre 1910.11
Chester 1910.12
Clarion 1910.12
Clearfield 1910.11
Clinton 1910.11
Columbia 1910.12
Crawford 1910.11
Cumberland 1910.12
Dauphin 1910.11
Delaware 1910.11
Elk 1910.12
Erie 1910.11
Fayette 1910.11
Forest 1910.12
Franklin 1910.12
Fulton 1910.11
Greene 1910.11
Huntingdon 1910.11
Indiana 1910.12
Jefferson 1910.11
Juniata 1910.11
Lackawanna 1910.12
Lancaster 1910.11
Lawrence 1910.11
Lebanon 1910.12
Lehigh 1910.12
Luzerne 1910.12
Lycoming 1910.12
McKean 1910.12
Mercer 1910.11
Mifflin 1910.11
Monroe 1910.12
Montgomery 1910.11
Montour 1910.12
Northampton 1910.11
Northumberland 1910.11
Perry 1910.11
Philadelphia 1910.12
Pike 1910.11
Potter 1910.11
Schuylkill 1910.12
Snyder 1910.11
Somerset 1910.11
Sullivan 1910.11
Susquehanna 1910.12
Tioga 1910.11
Union 1910.11
Venango 1910.12
Warren 1910.12
Washington 1910.12
Wayne 1910.11
Westmoreland 1910.12
Wyoming 1910.11
York 1910.11]

Official Note: For a complete list of the Alternative Hearing Procedures for each county: http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/committees/rules-committees/domestic-relations-procedural-rules-committee.

Explanatory Comment

In accordance with Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.10, a judicial district may opt for one of two procedures for support matters; the procedure selected is then certified by the president judge or administrative judge to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee as prescribed in subdivision (b). Subdivision (b) was added in response to requests from appellate court judges who find that it is often difficult to determine the rule with which the actual support procedure is intended to comply. Subsequently, a judicial district may, at any time, change its support procedure by filing a new certification with the staff of the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee indicating the rule according to which support matters will proceed. However, a judicial district may, by local rule, permit interstate actions to proceed directly to a hearing officer or judge without a conference.

The procedure set forth in Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.11 provides for a conference before a conference officer, a conference summary and entry of an interim order for support calculated in accordance with the guidelines, and a right to demand a hearing de novo before a judge. The hearing must be held and the final order entered within 60 days of the written demand for hearing.

The alternate procedure, as set forth in Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.12, provides for a conference before a conference officer, a record hearing before a hearing officer, and issuance of a report and recommendation to which exceptions may be filed within ten days. The court must hear argument and enter a final order within 60 days of the filing of exceptions.

In lieu of continuing the practice of including in the Note a 67-county list identifying the hearing procedure selected by the local county court, the list can now be found on the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee website.

CHAPTER 1915. ACTIONS FOR CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILDREN

Rule 1915.4-1. Alternative Hearing Procedures for Partial Custody Actions.

 (a) A custody action shall proceed as prescribed by Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.4-3 unless the court, by local rule, adopts the alternative hearing procedure authorized by Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.4-2 pursuant to which an action for partial custody may be heard by a hearing officer, except as provided in subdivision (b).

 (b) Promptly after the parties' initial contact with the court as set forth in Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.4(a), a party may move the court for a hearing before a judge, rather than a hearing officer, in an action for partial custody where:

 (1) there are complex questions of law, fact or both; or

 (2) the parties certify to the court that there are serious allegations affecting the child's welfare.

 (c) The president judge or the administrative judge of the family division of each county shall certify that custody proceedings generally are conducted in accordance with either Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.4-2 or Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.4-3. The certification shall be filed with the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and shall be substantially in the following form:

 I hereby certify that ______ County conducts its custody proceedings in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. No. ______ .

_________________
(President Judge)
_________________
(Administrative Judge)

[Note: Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.4-1, the following counties have certified to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee that their custody proceedings generally are conducted in accordance with the rule specified below:

COUNTY RULE
Adams 1915.4-3
Allegheny 1915.4-2
Armstrong 1915.4-3
Beaver 1915.4-3
Bedford 1915.4-3
Berks 1915.4-3
Blair 1915.4-3
Bradford 1915.4-2
Bucks 1915.4-3
Butler 1915.4-3
Cambria 1915.4-2
Cameron 1915.4-3
Carbon 1915.4-2
Centre 1915.4-3
Chester 1915.4-3
Clarion 1915.4-3
Clearfield 1915.4-3
Clinton 1915.4-3
Columbia 1915.4-3
Crawford 1915.4-3
Cumberland 1915.4-3
Dauphin 1915.4-3
Delaware 1915.4-2
Elk 1915.4-3
Erie 1915.4-3
Fayette 1915.4-2
Forest 1915.4-2
Franklin 1915.4-3
Fulton 1915.4-3
Greene 1915.4-2
Huntingdon 1915.4-3
Indiana 1915.4-3
Jefferson 1915.4-3
Juniata 1915.4-3
Lackawanna 1915.4-2
Lancaster 1915.4-3
Lawrence 1915.4-3
Lebanon 1915.4-3
Lehigh 1915.4-2
Luzerne 1915.4-2
Lycoming 1915.4-3
McKean 1915.4-3
Mercer 1915.4-3
Mifflin 1915.4-3
Monroe 1915.4-3
Montgomery 1915.4-3
Montour 1915.4-3
Northampton 1915.4-3
Northumberland 1915.4-3
Perry 1915.4-3
Philadelphia 1915.4-2
Pike 1915.4-2
Potter 1915.4-3
Schuylkill 1915.4-2
Snyder 1915.4-3
Somerset 1915.4-3
Sullivan 1915.4-3
Susquehanna 1915.4-3
Tioga 1915.4-2
Union 1915.4-3
Venango 1915.4-3
Warren 1915.4-2
Washington 1915.4-3
Wayne 1915.4-2
Westmoreland 1915.4-3
Wyoming 1915.4-3
York 1915.4-3

Explanatory Comment—1994

These rules provide an optional procedure for using hearing officers in partial custody cases. The procedure is similar to the one provided for support cases in Rule 1910.12: a conference, record hearing before a hearing officer and argument on exceptions before a judge. The terms ''conference officer'' and ''hearing officer'' have the same meaning here as in the support rules.

It is important to note that use of the procedure prescribed in Rules 1915.4-1 and 1915.4-2 is optional rather than mandatory. Counties which prefer to have all partial custody cases heard by a judge may continue to do so.

These procedures are not intended to replace or prohibit the use of any form of mediation or conciliation. On the contrary, they are intended to be used in cases which are not resolved through the use of less adversarial means.

Explanatory Comment—2007

The intent of the amendments to Rules 1915.4-1 and 1915.4-2, and new Rule 1915-4.3, is to clarify the procedures in record and non-record custody proceedings. When the first proceeding is non-record, no exceptions are required and a request for a de novo hearing may be made.]

Official Note: For a complete list of the Alternative Hearing Procedures for each county: http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/committees/rules-committees/domestic-relations-procedural-rules-committee.

Explanatory Comment

These rules provide an optional procedure for using hearing officers in partial custody cases. The procedure is similar to the one provided for support cases in Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.12: a conference, record hearing before a hearing officer and argument on exceptions before a judge. The terms ''conference officer'' and ''hearing officer'' have the same meaning here as in the support rules.

It is important to note that use of the procedure prescribed in Pa.R.C.P. Nos. 1915.4-1 and 1915.4-2 is optional rather than mandatory. Counties which prefer to have all partial custody cases heard by a judge may continue to do so.

These procedures are not intended to replace or prohibit the use of any form of mediation or conciliation. On the contrary, they are intended to be used in cases which are not resolved through the use of less adversarial means.

The intent of the 2007 amendments to Pa.R.C.P. Nos. 1915.4-1 and 1915.4-2, and Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915-4.3, was to clarify the procedures in record and non-record custody proceedings. When the first proceeding is non-record, no exceptions are required and a request for a de novo hearing may be made.

In lieu of continuing the practice of including in the Note a 67-county list identifying the hearing procedure selected by the local county court, the list can now be found on the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee website.

CHAPTER 1920. ACTIONS OF DIVORCE OR FOR ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE

Rule 1920.55-1. Alternative Hearing Procedures for Matters Referred to a Master.

 (a) Matters referred to a master for hearing shall proceed as prescribed by [Rule] Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-2 unless the court by local rule adopts the alternative procedure of [Rule] Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-3.

 (b) The president judge or the administrative judge of Family Division of each county shall certify that all divorce proceedings which are referred to a master in that county are conducted in accordance with either [Rule] Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-2 or [Rule] Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-3. The certification shall be filed with the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee and shall be substantially in the following form:

 I hereby certify that ______ County conducts its divorce proceedings that are referred to a master in accordance with [Rule] Pa.R.C.P. No. ______ .

_________________
(PRESIDENT JUDGE)
(ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE)

[Official Note: Pursuant to Rule 1920.55-1, the following counties have certified to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee that divorce proceedings referred to a master are conducted in accordance with the rule specified below.

Adams 1920.55-2
Allegheny 1920.55-2
Armstrong 1920.55-2
Beaver 1920.55-2
Bedford 1920.55-2
Berks 1920.55-2
Blair 1920.55-2
Bradford 1920.55-2
Bucks Both
Butler 1920.55-2
Cambria 1920.55-2
Cameron 1920.55-2
Carbon 1920.55-2
Centre 1920.55-2
Chester 1920.55-2
Clarion 1920.55-2
Clearfield 1920.55-2
Clinton no masters
Columbia 1920.55-2
Crawford 1920.55-2
Cumberland 1920.55-2
Dauphin 1920.55-2
Delaware 1920.55-3
Elk 1920.55-2
Erie 1920.55-2
Fayette 1920.55-2
Forest 1920.55-2
Franklin 1920.55-2
Fulton 1920.55-2
Greene 1920.55-2
Huntingdon no masters
Indiana 1920.55-2
Jefferson 1920.55-2
Juniata 1920.55-2
Lackawanna 1920.55-2
Lancaster 1920.55-2
Lawrence 1920.55-2
Lebanon 1920.55-2
Lehigh 1920.55-2
Luzerne 1920.55-2
Lycoming 1920.55-2
McKean 1920.55-2
Mercer 1920.55-2
Mifflin no masters
Monroe 1920.55-2
Montgomery 1920.55-3
Montour 1920.55-2
Northampton 1920.55-2
Northumberland 1920.55-2
Perry 1920.55-2
Philadelphia 1920.55-3
Pike 1920.55-2
Potter no masters
Schuylkill 1920.55-2
Snyder 1920.55-2
Somerset 1920.55-2
Sullivan 1920.55-2
Susquehanna 1920.55-2
Tioga 1920.55-2
Union 1920.55-2
Venango 1920.55-2
Warren 1920.55-2
Washington 1920.55-2
Wayne 1920.55-2
Westmoreland 1920.55-2
Wyoming 1920.55-2
York 1920.55-2

Explanatory Comment—1995

The proposed amendments create alternative procedures for appeal from the recommendation of a master in divorce. Rule 1920.55-1 states that, if the court chooses to appoint a master, the exceptions procedure set forth in proposed Rule 1920.55-2 will be used unless the court has, by local rule, adopted the alternative procedure of proposed Rule 1920.55-3.]

Official Note: For a complete list of the Alternative Hearing Procedures for each county: http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/committees/rules-committees/domestic-relations-procedural-rules-committee.

Explanatory Comment

The 1995 amendments created alternative procedures for appeal from the recommendation of a master in divorce. Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-1 states that, if the court chooses to appoint a master, the exceptions procedure set forth in proposed Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-2 will be used unless the court has, by local rule, adopted the alternative procedure of proposed Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.55-3.

In lieu of continuing the practice of including in the Note a 67-county list identifying the hearing procedure selected by the local county court, the list can now be found on the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee website.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 16-1851. Filed for public inspection October 28, 2016, 9:00 a.m.]



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