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.
  • The Berks County COVID-19 Help Center closed end of day, Friday, June 5, 2020.  If you have COVID-19 questions you may still email them to COVID@countyofberks.com.
     
COVID-19 FAMILY COURT UPDATE
 
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 tchojnowski@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.
    • CONCILIATIONS THAT WERE POSTPONED:   If you had a custody case that was postponed, those are being fit into the schedule as time permits. Attorneys and self-represented parties should contact Tammy Chojnowski ASAP to confirm the telephone number and e-mail you can be reached at so that she can provide that to the Custody Masters. You will be called or e-mailed to set up a date and time for your conciliation.
    • NEW CUSTODY COMPLAINTS & PETITIONS TO MODIFY:  New filings are being scheduled for future dates. Remote conciliations will be held until the ban on in-person proceedings is lifted. PLEASE CHECK THIS WEBSITE 3 DAYS BEFORE YOUR SCHEDULED PROCEEDING SO YOU WILL KNOW IF YOU NEED TO APPEAR IN PERSON.
  • 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: Mediation Orientations are NOT BEING HELD at this time.
  • DIVORCE MASTER PROCEEDINGS: The Divorce Masters may contact you to proceed remotely until the ban on in-person proceedings is lifted.
  • 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 lsiciliano@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. 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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