New in 2015, the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas implemented a new Family Law Court that will focus on divorce, child custody, and support issues. Here are some of the highlights of the new system that will have the biggest impact on our clients.
One Family, One Judge
Prior to the implementation of the Family Law Court, domestic matters were assigned at random to one of many judges, and there was no uniformity or consistency within each case. With the new Family Court, each family will be assigned to one of three judges — The Honorable Jeannine Turgeon, The Honorable William Tully, or he Honorable Bernard Coates — and that judge will hear all aspects of the case. The logic behind this change is that the judges will become familiar with each family, allowing the court to make more comprehensive rulings.
Seminar for Families in Conflict
Another major change is that everyone who files for divorce in Dauphin County with children under the age of 18 is required to attend the Seminar for Families in Conflict presented by Interworks. Previously, the only people required to attend the seminar were parents who were unable to resolve custody disputes at the conciliation level. Now, everyone with minor children must attend the seminar even where custody is not at issue. The seminar is four hours long and is held on weekends and evenings. The cost to attend the seminar is $50.00 per person.
One Divorce Master
Cindy S. Conley, Esquire has been hired as Dauphin County’s full-time Divorce Master. Until the end of 2014, there were three part-time Divorce Masters, and cases were assigned randomly. The Divorce Master conducts settlement conferences and hearings to resolve couples’ economic issues — primarily equitable distribution of property and alimony. We believe that having one full-time Divorce Master will streamline the process and will allow us to better advise our clients.
In addition to the changes outlined above, there are many new procedures. If you are considering filing for divorce, custody or support in Dauphin County, it is important that you consult with an attorney who understands the new family law system. Contact Jessica Smith or Alexis Miloszewski at (717)520-4400 or at FamilyLaw@jsdc.com to schedule a consultation.