Child Custody and Visitation: Frequently Asked Questions
- you are afraid that the other parent may take the child out of the area without your permission and not return;
- the other parent consistently does not pick the child up or return the child at the times that were verbally agreed upon and you want a court order to be able to enforce those times; and/or
- you need legal verification for school enrollment, health insurance benefits, Social Security
or welfare benefits, etc.
If you are the noncustodial parent, you should file for custody if:
- the custodial parent is withholding the child from you or is not giving you as much time as you would like to have;
- you want the child to live primarily with you; and or
- you are not having any input in the major decisions affecting the child such as educational, medical or religious issues.
There are two ways you can go about filing for custody and/or visitation.
- Obtain an Attorney: An attorney can handle all the legal paperwork for you and can give you legal advice and answer any legal questions that you may have.
- Self-Help Kits: Are packets that are offered on our website that are prepared by North Penn Legal Services and are a way you can file for custody/visitation without the help of an attorney. The Self-Help Kits come with step-by-step instructions on how to complete, file and serve the custody/visitation complaint.
- To file for custody/visitation where the child has lived in Tioga County for six (6) months or more and you are initially starting the custody/visitation action and the other party to the matter will not agree regarding custody/visitation then you will want to complete the SELF-HELP CONTESTED CUSTODY/VISITATION KIT.
- To file for custody/visitation where the child has lived in Tioga County for six (6) months or more and you and the other party are in agreement concerning custody/visitation you will need to complete the SELF-HELP AGREEMENT (STIPULATION) KIT.
$121.50. This is the filing fee and is subject to change. It is to be paid (by money order, cashiers check, personal check or cash) at the time that the custody complaint is filed at the Prothonotary’s Office on the first floor of the Tioga County Courthouse, which is the filing office for civil actions. To check the filing fee for this matter you can contact the Tioga County Prothonotary’s Office at (570) 724-9281.
If you fit the financial requirement for low income families, you can get the filing fee waived. In order to do so you must prepare a PETITION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PAYMENT OF FEES AND COSTS, which you can obtain on this website in the beginning of the Self-Help Contested Custody/Visitation Kit or Self-Help Agreement Kit.
conference. The Court Administrator’s Office must schedule the conference no earlier than 20 days from the day the complaint is filed. It is your responsibility, if you are using a Self-Help Kit, to make sure the other parent or party is given notice of the time and place of the conference. Service of the Complaint must be made by either personal service or certified mail in accordance with Pa. R.C.P. 1930.4 (explained more thoroughly in the instructions to the Self-Help Kits.)
Yes. You must bring to the conference the service Affidavit and the return receipt
card signed by the other party which shows that the complaint and order scheduling the conference was received by all other parties named in the caption.
NOTE: WITHOUT PROOF OF SERVICE THE CONFERENCE MAY NOT BE HELD.
The conference is conducted by an attorney who has been appointed by the court to act as a Custody Conference Officer (“CCO”). His or her job is to help the parents or parties work out a custody/visitation schedule which is agreeable to all. The conference officer cannot take sides, nor can he/she look at evidence you wish to present such as character references, letters from doctors or counselors, etc. If no agreement can be made concerning custody/visitation during the conciliation conference the CCO has the right send the parties to mediation or have the Court Administrator’s Office schedule the matter in front of the President Judge. The parties involved are each responsible for half of the Mediation fees if the CCO orders you to Mediation.
THE CUSTODY CONFERENCE OFFICER MAY NOT BE CONTACTED BY ANY PARTY OR BY ANYONE ON A PARTY’S BEHALF OUTSIDE OF THE CONFERENCE FOR ANY REASON.
You will need to contact the county where you want the jurisdiction changed to see what they require. Each county has their own local court rules, therefore, each county may operate differently concerning the custody/visitation procedures.
You can file a Petition for Contempt of Court requesting the President Judge of Tioga County to enforce your existing court order. After filing said Petition the Court Administrator’s Office will schedule a contempt hearing with the President Judge. Our website offers a SELF-HELP CONTEMPT OF COURT KIT. Instructions on how to file and serve the Petition for Contempt is more thoroughly explained in the Self-Help Kit. There is no fee to file a Petition for Contempt.
If custody of your child has been transferred by the Court to the Tioga County Family Services Agency you can contact the Tioga County Court Administrator’s Office at (570) 723-8380 to request an attorney. In requesting an attorney either via North Penn Legal Services or obtaining a court appointed attorney through the Court you receive an attorney that is willing and available to take your case. You cannot pick and choose your attorney if you are requesting one from the Court or North Penn Legal Services. Once you obtain an appointed attorney you cannot request a different attorney. If you wish to have a different attorney after you have one appointed you need to hire a private attorney