Family Court Updates: Physical Closures and Virtual Hearings

Current Philadelphia Family Court Closures (June 2020)

The Family Court building at 1501 Arch Street will remain closed for all in-person Domestic Relations proceedings through December 31st, 2020, meaning most custody, support, protection from abuse, and divorce proceedings are cancelled

If you have not received a new notification from the Court that was issued after June 1, 2020, you should not go to any in person hearing.

The only exception to this are semi-protracted and protracted listings which will continue as scheduled via video conference. Semi-protracted listings are those scheduled for one-half day trials, protracted listings are those that have a full day reserved for the hearing. These proceedings have not been cancelled.

Starting June 1, 2020, parties began receiving notice from the Court of new, rescheduled dates. For now, rescheduled dates will take place via video conference. 

Family Court is accepting new filings! 

If you wish to seek legal help from the Family Court system, go to our Emergency Custody filings and Protection from Abuse pages to learn about filing. 

If you have an ongoing case, make sure the Court has a current address, phone number and email address. There are several ways to change/update one’s address. You can email philacsc@pacses.com the info to be updated, along with your case ID or social security number and a copy of their photo id (just a picture from their phone works) for verification. 

NOTE: Attorneys can send a praecipe to change the party’s address to Kathleen Berry at customer service at KathleenBerry@PACSES.COM 

Contact Domestic Relations Customer Service to find out information about your custody or support case and to update your address:

Call 215-686-7466 between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday (except holidays) OR email at Philacsc@pacses.com. Be sure to have your case number, called the PACSES number for support cases, or the Domestic Relations number “DR. No.” for custody cases.

Family Court Can Help Folks Without an Attorney with Custody and Support Filings

If you are self-represented, meaning you do not have an attorney, and want help filing a complaint or petition in child custody and/or non-interstate child support matters, you may contact the Family Court Intake Unit at 215-686-6311, extensions 19220 and 19221, between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday (except holidays). 

Intake Unit personnel will conduct an interview and gather your information. The Intake Unit personnel will mail the appropriate pleading to the filing party with instructions on how to complete and return the pleading, and to how to pay the required filing fee if there is one. If you can not afford to pay the fee, you must ask for a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis to be mailed along with the underlying pleading as described below.

All of the pleadings and forms can also be accessed at www.courts.phila.gov/forms under the “Court of Common Pleas Family Court – Domestic Relations” heading.

How to File:

Online: Self-represented parties may directly file complaints for support and petitions to modify support online at the following PACSES address: www.childsupport.state.pa.us.

By Mail: Complaints and petitions can be filed by mail to the Office of the Clerk of Family Court, 11th Floor, 1501 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

By Email: Complaints and petitions can be emailed to DRClerkRoutine@courts.phila.gov. Be sure you include all the required documents along with the complaint or petition, including the Domestic Relations Information Sheet as set out on the Court’s website at www.courts.phila.gov/forms 

Interstate Support Cases

Self-represented Philadelphia residents who require assistance with the preparation and filing of child support establishment/modification pleadings against parties who reside outside Philadelphia may contact the Intergovernmental Affairs Filing Unit to schedule an appointment by email at philainterstate@pacses.com or by phone at (215) 686-4004, option number 2.

Filing fees

Custody and divorce filings require fees, but fees may be waived if the person filing can not afford the fee. 

The person filing must fill out a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, often called an “IFP,” to have the fee waived. The Court will review the IFP and it will either be granted, meaning accepted, or denied, meaning not accepted. If the IFP is denied, the fees must be paid via mail within twenty (20) days from notification by the Clerk’s office to the Petitioner (the person who is filing) that the IFP petition has been denied.

The fee OR the granted IFP form must be received by the Office of the Clerk of Family Court either with the filing or within three (3) business days from an emailed filing. 

The IFP form may be found here: https://www.courts.phila.gov/pdf/forms/domestic-relations/prose-ifp.pdf

Fees may be paid by money order or attorney’s check (no personal checks or cash), MADE PAYABLE TO THE OFFICE OF JUDICIAL RECORDS, and must be mailed (along with the legal filing, if applicable) to the Clerk’s office, addressed as follows:

Office of the Clerk of Family Court

1501 Arch Street, 11th Floor

Philadelphia PA 19102

ATTENTION: FILING FEES (if payment is included)

IMPORTANT: If the filing fee is being mailed separate from the legal filing, be sure to include the docket number in the memo portion of the money order or attorney’s check.

This PDF breaks down filings fees for Family Court on Pages 5-8: https://courts.phila.gov/pdf/prothyfees.pdf 

This document breaks down a Philadelphia Family Court Order from May 15th, 2020. To read the Order about court procedures and reopening in its entirety go to: https://www.courts.phila.gov/pdf/regs/2020/34-of-2020-PJ-ORDER.pdf