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Custody Forms and Information


Custody Forms and Information
General Information
            If you have decided to represent yourself in a custody matter, there are several procedural and filing requirements of which you should be aware.  First, it will be helpful to you to consult the Court’s Handbook for Self-Represented Litigants, which can be found here. This handbook covers many subjects regarding the legal process in general and provides practical guidance for navigating the civil courts. 
           There are particular forms that you can use to file a complaint for custody, a petition to modify custody, or a petition for civil contempt for violation of an existing custody order.  These standard forms generally can be used in any county in Pennsylvania, together with any additional forms or filing requirements that a particular county might have.  You can find the necessary forms for filing complaints, modification petitions, contempt petitions, and other custody documents on the website of the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System, which is located here. This website also includes a glossary of legal terms that you can consult if you do not understand the meaning of a word used by the Court or by an attorney. 
           Custody cases are civil matters.  Therefore, they are governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, which can be found here. The rules that apply to  custody matters begin at Rule 1915.  It will be helpful for you to review these rules prior to initiating your custody action.
Local Forms and Procedures
           The standard forms provided on the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System’s website are the only forms you will need to file a custody action.  However, you also should be aware of Armstrong County’s local civil rules of court, which also apply to custody matters.  The local rules can be found here. The local custody rules begin at Local Rule 1915.3.
Filing Fees and Other Requirements
            Custody documents, including complaints and other petitions, are filed with the Armstrong County Prothonotary.  Many custody filings, including complaints, must be filed in person and may require payment of a filing fee. You also will be responsible for providing one additional copy of the legal document that you are filing to the Prothonotary.  If you do not bring an extra copy with you, you will be responsible for copy fees charged by the Prothonotary.  The address of the Prothonotary’s office, procedures for filing, and a fee schedule for particular custody documents can be found here on the Prothonotary’s website.  The Prothonotary’s office is open for business between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  It is located on the first floor of the Armstrong County Courthouse, 500 E. Market Street, Kittanning, Pennsylvania 16201.
Service of the Complaint and Other Papers
            Each time you file a custody document, whether it be an initial custody complaint, a petition for modification or special relief, or another paper, it must also be served by you on all other parties in the lawsuit.  For custody complaints, Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1930.4 provides the guidelines for how to serve the complaint on another party.  Other documents filed by you in a custody case must be served according to the procedures provided in Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 440.  Rule 1930.4 and Rule 440 can be found here.