The Courts of Chester County are closed through April 30, 2020, as part of the statewide Judicial Emergency. This means that the Chester County Justice Center is closed to the general public. Certain emergency hearings, however, are taking place. Those types of hearings concern Protection from Abuse Petitions, Custody Emergencies, Juvenile Dependency and Delinquency Emergencies, Emergency Guardianships and Mental Health Emergencies. It should be noted that Sheriff’s Deputies are instructed to deny Court House access to anyone displaying outward signs of COVID-19.
Judges and Hearing Officers have been given the discretion to handle any routine matters that they feel appropriate through advanced communication technology. Such technology would include phone, Skype, or Zoom, provided the parties agree and have access to the necessary technology. These proceedings would consist of specific custody conferences, preliminary conferences and possibly some settlement conferences in equitable distribution matters.
The Chester County Domestic Relations Office (DRO) is taking filings through the State Support Website. Presently, no support conferences are being held or scheduled. To alleviate the anticipated backlog of conferences, DRO is offering to review income data submitted by counsel, compute incomes and a guideline amount and return that to counsel for further negotiation. If the parties agree, a stipulation can be submitted. If there is no agreement, the conference remains on the list. No extraordinary enforcement efforts are being initiated beyond wage attachments.
The Chester County Prothonotary is only accepting in-person filings of Emergency Petitions. Emergency Petitions and all other filings by mail. The Chester County Department of Children Youth and Families is not handling any types of dependency visitation. They are instructed to utilize some form of alternate means, be it telephone, Skype, Zoom or written letters.
Finally, the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County’s Hotline is still available 24-7
(1-888-711-6270, 610-431-1430), and their website is fully operational,