As of January 3, 2005, the procedures to address custody, partial custody, and custody modification requests have been changed to comply with the revised Berks County Local Rules. There is now a three-step process involved:
It is mandatory for the parents and/or legal caretakers to attend an Adult Education Seminar as the first step in understanding co-parenting issues relating to their child(ren). After completing the seminar, you are required to file your certificate of attendance with the Prothonotary's Office on the 2nd Floor of the Courthouse.
- Upon completion of the education seminar, all parents and/or legal caretakers must attend one Mediation Orientation Session, and may then proceed with voluntary mediation.
- If the parties are unable to resolve their issues in mediation, they will appear for a Conciliation Conference.
When you file your complaint for custody, you will be scheduled to attend the "Children in the Middle" education seminar followed by a Mediation Orientation session and a Conciliation Conference.
Attorneys & Mediation
It is recommended that you seek legal advice to understand your legal rights prior to mediation. If you do not have an attorney, contact THE BERKS COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION, 544-546 Court Street, Reading PA. 19603 (610) 375-4591, and advise that this is for a case regarding custody. If an understanding is reached, the parties may consult with an attorney to prepare a parenting plan consistent with an order of court.
Mediation Orientation Session
Orientation Sessions are held in Hearing Rooms 1A or 1B on the First Floor of the Berks County Courthouse, 633 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601. (Court Street Entrance)
The Orientation Session gives parents and/or caretakers an opportunity to meet with a trained mediator to address issues related to meeting their child(ren)'s needs. Children do not participate in mediation.
The parties will meet with the assigned mediator for one and a half hours to undergo a screening process to determine if mediation is right for them, to learn what mediation has to offer, and to proceed in mediation if the parties agree and time permits. They can then choose to continue in mediation if they have not reached an agreement.
"Children in the Middle"
This Parenting Class is a 3-hour video based presentation required for all parties participating in a Custody action. Each parent or party pays a $40 fee in advance and attends the Parenting Class separately, held at the Family Guidance Center, 1235 Penn Avenue, Suites 205-206, Wyomissing, PA 19610. Upon completion of the class, you are required to file your certificate of attendance with the Prothonotary's Office on the 2nd Floor of the Courthouse. If, for any reason, you need to reschedule the class, you must call the Family Guidance Center directly, at 610-374-4963.