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Custody and Guardianship of Children

Legal Information
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This section of PALawHelp.org has information and resources about Custody and Guardianship of Children issues in Pennsylvania.

Click on a resource category listed below to see information related to that category.

Child Custody

Information from Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. on rights relating to custody and visitation of children.

Child Custody Video Workshop - North Penn Legal Services

This video workshop from North Penn Legal Services provided basic information about child custody and visitation and describes how custody disputes are handled throgh the courts or through negotiation or mediation.

Custody

Chapter 5 of Family Law Manual, developed by North Penn Legal Services. [PDF]

Custody and Visitation in PA (Audio-MP3)

Episode of Northwestern Legal Services' "Access to Justice" Radio show broadcast on JET 1400 AM in Erie, PA on 5/22/2008. Robert Oakley, NWLS Director interviews Judge Stephanie Domitrovitch, Erie County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, and Karen Klapsinos, NWLS Staff Attorney regarding custody in Pennsylvania. Information is provided on what a Custody Order is, what it means, how to obtain one, and issues to consider when pursuing custody or visitation. (24:06)

Custody - Myths & Facts

Information from MidPenn Legal Services on the true facts regarding child custody law.

General Information On Custody and Visitation

Definitions and general information on custody and visitation from Northwestern Legal Services.

Overview of Custody - Guidelines of Conduct

Information from Northwestern Legal Services on the guidelines of conduct surrounding child custody.

Inside Custody Court: Factors Relevant to Custody Decisions (Video)

This video produced by Penn Law School with the assistance of Philadelphia Legal Assistance, provides an introduction to the factors relevant to custody decisions in Pennsylvania.

Custody Update 2014 (Video)

This video from North Penn Legal Services, presented by Ellen Kramer of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, provides updated information for issues related to custody relocation and the factors a court needs to consider in any custody case.

Custody Proceedings - Representing Yourself: Forms and Information from the Pennsylvania Courts

Free online information is available from the Pennsylvania Courts website to assist the growing number of Pennsylvanians who want to file their own family law cases in courts across the state. Standardized court forms for child custody proceedings may be obtained on this page of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s website. Included are forms for both parents and third parties, including grandparents.

Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Costs to record, or “file” documents such as the complaint, vary from the type of document, or pleading, to the county in which you begin your case. Some court filing costs may be in the hundreds of dollars. If you cannot afford to pay these fees to the court, you will need to complete this form, In Forma Pauperis, a Latin term, referring to someone who cannot pay.

Filling out an Affidavit of Service (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services explains how to complete and file an Affidavit of Service in a custody proceeding after servicing legal papers on the opposing party in your case. The video covers situations where a person is personally served by giving them a copy of the papers and when the service is done by mail.

How to Complete a Custody Complaint Form - For Grandparents and Third Parties (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides line-by-line instructions on how to complete a Custody Complaint form 2 (for grandparents and third parties) that is available from the PA Courts "Representing Yourself" website.

How to Complete a Custody Complaint Form - For Parents (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides line-by-line instructions on how to complete a Custody Complaint form 1 (for parents) that is available from the PA Courts "Representing Yourself" website.

How to File a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides an explanation of what In Forma Pauperis is (a request to file legal papers without having to pay the filing fee because you cannot afford to pay the fees) and line-by-line instructions on completing a petition to request permission to proceed without paying filing fees.

Preparing for a Custody Hearing - Pennsylvania (Video)

This video explains what happens at a child custody hearing, describes the "best interest of the child" standard, and gives you tips on how to obtain the custody order you want. The video is part of Philadelphia Legal Assistance's "Make Your Case" video series.

Child Custody Video Workshop - North Penn Legal Services

This video workshop from North Penn Legal Services provided basic information about child custody and visitation and describes how custody disputes are handled throgh the courts or through negotiation or mediation.

How to Complete a Custody Complaint Form - For Grandparents and Third Parties (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides line-by-line instructions on how to complete a Custody Complaint form 2 (for grandparents and third parties) that is available from the PA Courts "Representing Yourself" website.

Overview of Grandparents' Rights in Family Court (Video)

Jennifer Pierce, Managing Attorney for Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, provides a brief overview of grandparent’s rights in family court.

Understanding Kinship Foster Care (Video)

This video has been produced by the Pennsylvania Courts to help potential kinship providers learn about and understand kinship foster care, navigate the dependency court system and take the necessary steps to become a kinship parent.

Montgomery County: How To File a Custody Complaint in Montgomery County, PA (Video)

A short, step-by-step instructional video on "How to File a Custody Complaint in Montgomery County, PA. This video was produced by the 38th Judicial District Court of Common Pleas in cooperation with Montgomery Bar Association.

Philadelphia County: Child Custody in Philadelphia County

Information on filing for custody in Philadelphia County.

Custody Proceedings - Representing Yourself: Forms and Information from the Pennsylvania Courts

Free online information is available from the Pennsylvania Courts website to assist the growing number of Pennsylvanians who want to file their own family law cases in courts across the state. Standardized court forms for child custody proceedings may be obtained on this page of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s website. Included are forms for both parents and third parties, including grandparents.

How to File a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides an explanation of what In Forma Pauperis is (a request to file legal papers without having to pay the filing fee because you cannot afford to pay the fees) and line-by-line instructions on completing a petition to request permission to proceed without paying filing fees.

Filing for Emergency Custody: A Walk-Through (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides a walk-through of completing the forms necessary to file for Emergency Custody in Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland Counties.

Filling out an Affidavit of Service (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services explains how to complete and file an Affidavit of Service in a custody proceeding after servicing legal papers on the opposing party in your case. The video covers situations where a person is personally served by giving them a copy of the papers and when the service is done by mail.

How to Complete a Custody Complaint Form - For Grandparents and Third Parties (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides line-by-line instructions on how to complete a Custody Complaint form 2 (for grandparents and third parties) that is available from the PA Courts "Representing Yourself" website.

How to Complete a Custody Complaint Form - For Parents (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides line-by-line instructions on how to complete a Custody Complaint form 1 (for parents) that is available from the PA Courts "Representing Yourself" website.

How to File a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides an explanation of what In Forma Pauperis is (a request to file legal papers without having to pay the filing fee because you cannot afford to pay the fees) and line-by-line instructions on completing a petition to request permission to proceed without paying filing fees.

Montgomery County: How To File a Custody Complaint in Montgomery County, PA (Video)

A short, step-by-step instructional video on "How to File a Custody Complaint in Montgomery County, PA. This video was produced by the 38th Judicial District Court of Common Pleas in cooperation with Montgomery Bar Association.

Philadelphia County: Child Custody in Philadelphia County

Information on filing for custody in Philadelphia County.

Custody Proceedings - Representing Yourself: Forms and Information from the Pennsylvania Courts

Free online information is available from the Pennsylvania Courts website to assist the growing number of Pennsylvanians who want to file their own family law cases in courts across the state. Standardized court forms for child custody proceedings may be obtained on this page of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s website. Included are forms for both parents and third parties, including grandparents.

Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Costs to record, or “file” documents such as the complaint, vary from the type of document, or pleading, to the county in which you begin your case. Some court filing costs may be in the hundreds of dollars. If you cannot afford to pay these fees to the court, you will need to complete this form, In Forma Pauperis, a Latin term, referring to someone who cannot pay.

Understanding Kinship Foster Care (Video)

This video has been produced by the Pennsylvania Courts to help potential kinship providers learn about and understand kinship foster care, navigate the dependency court system and take the necessary steps to become a kinship parent.

Filing for Emergency Custody: A Walk-Through (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides a walk-through of completing the forms necessary to file for Emergency Custody in Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland Counties.

Filing for Emergency Custody: A Walk-Through (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides a walk-through of completing the forms necessary to file for Emergency Custody in Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland Counties.

Montgomery County: How To File a Custody Complaint in Montgomery County, PA (Video)

A short, step-by-step instructional video on "How to File a Custody Complaint in Montgomery County, PA. This video was produced by the 38th Judicial District Court of Common Pleas in cooperation with Montgomery Bar Association.

Philadelphia County: Child Custody in Philadelphia County

Information on filing for custody in Philadelphia County.

Filing for Emergency Custody: A Walk-Through (Video)

This video from Laurel Legal Services provides a walk-through of completing the forms necessary to file for Emergency Custody in Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland Counties.

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