Custody Proceedings - Representing Yourself: Forms and Information from the Pennsylvania Courts
Authored By: Administrative Office of 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 the page linked below of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s website. Included are forms for both parents and third parties, including grandparents.
The Courts' “Representing Yourself” page is designed to provide a place for interested parties without the ability to retain counsel to explore resources needed to represent themselves in court. It is not intended to provide legal interpretations or advice — those services can only be provided by an attorney. Indeed, while the courts are providing these forms and instructions, all who can retain an attorney are urged to do so. Representing yourself in any legal proceeding can result in lost rights, and should not be done unless one has no other option.
Each of the documents listed include a blank form and the instructions to fill out that form. It is important to read the attached instructions before completing each form. Also provided are links to counties in which each family court is located to provide self-represented litigants with details on how and where to file the documents. Additional resources include a directory of local self-help centers, Web links to free and low-cost legal aid and search mechanisms to help find mediators and guardianship agencies.
The Pennsylvania Courts also provide a video entitled "What to Know Before Representing Yourself in Pennsylvania", which you are urged to watch before embarking on representing yourself in Court.
WARNING ABOUT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
Self-represented litigants are held to the same standards as attorneys admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Representing yourself does not exempt you from understanding and following statewide and local Rules of Court.
For your protection, be sure to verify you have met all up-to-date requirements by contacting your local county court administration.