Welcome to the County of Berks
Welcome to The Office of Family Court

DEPARTMENTAL OPERATIONS:

Department Contact Info:

Phone: 610-478-6208 ext. 5770

  • All Berks County Employees and anyone entering county buildings must wear a mask or they will be denied entrance.
  • If you have COVID-19 questions you may still email them to COVID@countyofberks.com.
     
COVID-19 FAMILY COURT UPDATE
 
PLEASE READ the following Secretary of Health guidance from the FAQs regarding Custody Exchanges and Quarantines:
 
Do I have to quarantine after I travel out of state?
Completing a 14-day quarantine after traveling outside of Pennsylvania is required if an individual does not have proof of a negative test result. As case numbers increase nationwide, persons traveling to Pennsylvania or returning to Pennsylvania after travelling out of state risk bringing COVID-19 into the state and potentially infecting others. Individuals should stay in their quarantine location for the full 14 days and avoid physically interacting with anyone, including those in their household. If individuals do not want to quarantine, they can be tested in the 72 hours prior to entering Pennsylvania; if they have a negative test result, they will not have to quarantine. Additionally, quarantine is not required for individuals who travel routinely for work or other critical purposes, such as medical appointments or to comply with a court order such as custody exchanges.
 
 
Family Court is operating during the health emergency, but to promote safety, is doing so with limited staff. Please note that some matters are proceeding by telephone or video and some are in person. For more detailed information, please see the information below by case type.
  • CUSTODY CONCILIATIONS
    • CURRENTLY SCHEDULED CONCILIATIONS:  Conciliations are being done remotely by telephone or video calls for matters on the dates they are scheduled. If you are represented by an Attorney, contact them for participation details. If you are representing yourself, please contact Tammy Chojnowski at least 1 week before your proceeding: [phone 610.478.6208 ext. 5770, e-mail FamilyCourt@countyofberks.com or by fax 610.478.4995] to provide a telephone number and e-mail so the Court can contact you. If you know the other side's contact information, please provide that. When you e-mail, fax, or leave a voicemail message, please clearly indicate your name, the Docket # for your case, and the date it is scheduled.
    •   ALL custody cases that were postponed have been rescheduled.  If you have a case that was scheduled to be heard in March or April and you have not received an Order or have not been contacted with a new date, please contact Tammy Chojnowski IMMEDIATELY at 610-478-6208 ext. 5770.
    • New filings are being scheduled. Conciliations will continue to be held by telephone until further notice. PLEASE CHECK THIS WEBSITE THREE (3) BUSINESS DAYS BEFORE THE DATE OF YOUR CONCILIATION TO SEE IF YOUR CONCILIATION WILL BE HELD IN PERSON OR BY TELEPHONE.
  • FOLLOWING CUSTODY ORDERS:  Family Court has been getting many calls about whether Custody Orders still need to be followed during the pandemic. PLEASE see the AOPC NOTICE below and read the SEVEN GUIDELINES under the tab to the right. If you have additional questions, you may want to consult with an attorney who can provide you with legal advice.
  • MEDIATION ORIENTATIONS: As of June 1, 2020, there is no longer a Berks County Mediation Program.
  • DIVORCE MASTER PROCEEDINGS: The Divorce Masters are scheduling Preliminary Conferences, Settlement Conferences, and Hearings. You will be advised by the Divorce Master whether that proceeding will be by telephone or in person.
  • DOMESTIC RELATIONS - SUPPORT: Domestic Relations has their own Department. Go to their website: https://www.co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Courts/DRS/Pages/default.aspx
  • FAMILY COURT FILINGS:
    • Regular Filings:
      • The Family Court Judges and Family Court Administration are working and will schedule essential and non-essential matters on a case-by-case basis. Any matter not able to be scheduled at this time will be scheduled as soon as it is safe to do so.
      • The Prothonotary's Office remains open with limited staff to accept electronic filings from Attorneys as well as filings by mail. Check their website for more details: https://www/co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Prothy/Pages/Default.aspx
    • Emergency Filings:  If exigent circumstances require a family law matter to be heard immediately, parties shall set forth such circumstances in an appropriate pleading or contact the Family Court Administrator, Lisa Siciliano, Esquire, by telephone at 610.478.6208 ext. 5771 or by e-mail at FamilyCourt@countyofberks.com. Exigent circumstances will be communicated to the assigned Family Court Judge for review and determination as to scheduling the matter.
  • PROTECTION FROM ABUSE:
    • Emergency:  The Magisterial District Courts continue to be open for Emergency protection orders nights, weekends, and holidays.
    • Temporary & Final:  Temporary and Final proceedings are considered essential. Filers only may come to the PFA Office on the 1st Floor Services Center to file for protection orders Monday-Friday starting at 8 AM. DO NOT bring anyone else with you when you come to file. Final hearings are being held in person and are limited to the parties and their attorneys at this time.  If you are COVID-19 positive, have any symptoms of COVID-19, or are caring for someone who is ill, DO NOT come to the Services Center to file a petition or to attend a hearing. Contact Court Administration at 610.478.6208 ext. 5771 for instructions instead.
  
AOPC NOTICE FROM GEOFF MOULTON, COURT ADMINISTRATOR OF PENNSYLVANIA  3-24-20
I have been asked about the impact of the Governor’s “stay at home” order on existing child custody orders and the travel necessary to effectuate them in affected counties.  The Governor’s Office of General Counsel has confirmed to me that the Governor’s order does not prohibit such travel.  (In counties not subject to the stay-at-home order, there is likewise no barrier to such travel and the continued enforcement of custody orders.)  Judges have discretion to modify custody orders in light of changing circumstances, but nothing in the Governor’s order requires that.

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