Family Law

PLA helps clients maintain custody of their children and protect themselves and their children from violence. 

The Family Law Unit at Philadelphia Legal Assistance is OPEN during the pandemic. 

Call our Family Law Hotline at 215-981-3838 for help Monday - Thursday, 9:30 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.

As of May 17th, 2020 All Philadelphia Custody, Support, Divorce, and PFA's proceedings that were previously scheduled through December 31, 2020 are canceled and will be rescheduled, except for protracted hearings. Protracted hearings are hearings scheduled for a full-day.

If your hearing was scheduled between March 18- December 31, 2020 it will be rescheduled and you should not go to court.

Categories Within Family Law

How to get help with Family Law

The following departments at PLA provide legal assistance with Family Law:

Intake Procedure:

Call the Family Law Intake Line at 215.981.3838 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between the hours of 09:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.  Callers are not able to leave a message.  The Family Law Intake Line may be closed early if call volume is high.

We recommend calling at least three weeks before your court date before a Master and at least six weeks before your hearing before a Judge.

PLA's Family Law Intake Line does not accept applications for assistance with divorce, child support, or spousal support.

Assistance for immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is available from PLA's Immigrant Women's Legal Assistance Hotline, which assists callers with legal problems including divorce, custody, child/spousal support, protection from abuse, and immigration.  Speakers of languages other than English and Spanish may leave a message with the Immigrant Women's Legal Assistance Hotline by calling 215.981.3838 at any time.

Applicants may also apply online.

Self-Help Resources

Virtual Hearings at Family Court

Virtual Hearings: What to Expect and FAQs 


Question: How are hearings being held during the pandemic? 

Answer: Hearings are being held over a remote video platform called Ring Central. Ring Central is similar to Zoom. 

Safety Planning During Coronavirus (COVID-19)


The Family Law Unit at Philadelphia Legal Assistance is OPEN and working remotely during the pandemic. 

Call our Family Law Hotline at 215-981-3838 for help Monday - Thursday, 9:30 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.

Filing for a Protection from Abuse Order in Philadelphia during Coronavirus

We are being asked to stay at home, but not every home is safe.

It’s important to know you can still obtain emergency Protection from Abuse Orders in Philadelphia even though local courts are closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Family Law Unit at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Women's Law Project, and SeniorLAW Center have compiled a comprehensive go-to resource for obtaining Protections From Abuse (PFA) Orders in Philadelphia while courts are closed due to coronavirus.

Please share this page widely. You never know who may need this information.

Planning for Custody and Care of Children: an Informational Guide for Immigrant Families

This guide is intended to give basic information under Pennsylvania law about custody of children and how to plan for and or deal with a change in circumstances due to a parent’s sudden or expected absence or inability to care for her/his children.  Available in Spanish.

Family Law Resource List

This is a list of organizations that provide assistance with family law cases.

Resources at the Philadelphia Family Court Help Center

The Family Court Help Center is a room in the Philadelphia Family Court where people with family court cases can receive free legal information from knowledgable volunteers.

This guide explains the services available at the Help Center.

Family Law for Teen Parents

A 54-page guide and an on-line quiz for teen parents about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to paternity, child custody, child support, protection from abuse, and emancipation.

Getting a Protection From Abuse Order

This video explains the court process for obtaining a Protection From Abuse Order. Developed by Philadelphia Legal Assistance as part of its Make Your Case video series.

Preparing for Your Support Conference

This video explains what happens at a child support conference, describes how child support is calculated, and helps you decide whether to ask for a hearing before a support master if you are unsatisfied with the result of a support conference. Developed by Philadelphia Legal Assistance as part of its Make Your Case video series.

Preparing for a Custody Hearing

This video explains what happens at a child custody hearing, describes the "best interest of the child" standard, and gives you tips on how to obtain the custody order you want. Developed by Philadelphia Legal Assistance as part of its Make Your Case video series.

Court Forms Available From the First Judicial District

See the First Judicial District's court forms page for PDF court forms for use in custody, support, and protection from abuse cases.

Paternity of Children in Philadelphia County When Parents Are Not Married

This brochure explains what paternity is and how it is determined.

Divorce in Philadelphia County

This brochure explains how to file for divorce in Philadelphia.

Family law self-help resources from Women's Law Project

The Women's Law Project offers a variety of self-help materials in the area of Family Law.

Family law resources from offers self-help forms and information on a variety of family law topics, including document assembly interviews that allow you to create legal documents on-line.  Some of the document assembly interviews were developed by PLA.


Kristy Lopez - Paralegal

Justice for Families Grant Family Court Help Center Advocate

Leslie Allen - Attorney

Leslie Allen is a Supervising Attorney of the Family Law Unit.

Emily Blakeslee - Paralegal
Brittany Chung - Paralegal
Emilia Golanska - Attorney

Emilia Golanska is a Managing Attorney at PLA.

Deeya Haldar - Attorney

Deeya Haldar is currently on leave from Philadelphia Legal Assistance.  She is teaching a civil litigation clinic at Villanova Law School.

Susan Pearlstein - Attorney

Susan Pearlstein is the Senior Attorney, Violence Prevention and Policy Strategist at PLA.

Gabriela Rodriguez - Attorney

Gabriela Rodriguez is a Supervising Attorney of the Family Law Unit.


Diane Rosario - Paralegal

Senior Paralegal

Arly Smith-Pearson - Attorney

Arly Smith-Pearson is the supervisor of the Drexel Civil Litigation Field Clinic.

Abbi Stoltzfus - Paralegal
Lawrence Szmulowicz - Attorney