BERKS COUNTY FAMILY COURT APPENDIX TO CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS
Attorney Jana R. Barnett regularly represents clients involved in child custody disputes. She is familiar with local Court Rules. In her Berks County cases, she assists her clients in understanding the Berks County Court of Common Pleas Appendix for Custody Orders. When followed, the Appendix places the best interests of the children first.
The Appendix shall be substantially as follows
Certain rules of conduct which generally apply to custody matters are set forth below and are binding on both parties, the breach of which could become the subject of contempt proceedings before this Court, or could constitute grounds for modification of this Order. If these general rules conflict with any specific provisions of the Order, the Order shall prevail.
1. In addition to the foregoing rights, both parties shall also have the following rights with respect to the children:
(A) The right to reasonable telephone contact with the children when she is in the other parent's custody;
(B) The right to be fully informed concerning the progress of the children in school and the children's medical status, including the right to obtain the necessary information directly from the children's school or medical practitioner; and
(C) The right to be informed in advance before any important decisions are made concerning the children and the opportunity to participate in those decisions.
2. In the event of any serious illness of the children at any time, any party then having custody of the children shall immediately communicate with the other party by telephone or by any other means, informing the other party as to the nature of such illness, and during such illness, each party shall have the right to visit the children as he or she desires consistent with the proper medical care of the children.
3. Neither party shall alienate nor permit nor attempt to alienate the children from the other party. While in the presence of the children, neither parent shall make any remarks or do anything which is derogatory or uncomplimentary to the other, and it shall be the duty of each parent to uphold the other parent as one the children should respect and love.
4. Both parties shall provide each other with their addresses and telephone numbers of their residences and anytime they take a trip with the children out of the jurisdiction of Berks County in excess of three (3) days.
5. The parties shall not conduct arguments or heated conversation when they are together in the presence of their children.
6. The parties shall at all times consider the children's best interests, and act accordingly. It is in a child's best interests to understand that she is trying to desperately cope with the fact of her parent's separation, and needs help in loving both parents, rather than interference or censure.
7. Neither party shall question the children as to the personal lives of the other parent except insofar as necessary to ensure the personal safety of the children. By this we mean that the children will not be used as spies on the other party. It is harmful to a child to be put in the role of spy.
8. The parties should remember that they cannot teach their children proper moral conduct by indulging in improper conduct themselves. Children are quick to recognize hypocrisy, and the parent who maintains a double standard will lose the respect of his or her child.
9. Weekend and evening visitation shall be subject to:
A. Arrangements will be worked out before hand between the parties without forcing the children to make choices and run the risk of adult displeasure. However, the children shall be consulted as to their schedules when appropriate.
B. Visitation rights shall be exercised at reasonable hours and under circumstances reasonably acceptable to the other party and to the need and desires of the minor children.
C. If a party finds himself or herself unable to keep an appointment, he or she should give immediate notice to the other party, so as to avoid subjecting the children to unnecessary apprehension and failure of expectations.
D. The party having custody of the children should prepare them both physically and mentally for the transfer of custody to the other party and have them available at the time and place mutually agreed upon.
E. If either party or a child has plans which conflict with a scheduled visit and wish to change such visitation, the parties should make arrangements for an adjustment acceptable to the schedules of everyone involved. Predetermined schedules are not written in stone, and both parties should be flexible for the sake of the children.
F. If a party shows up for a visit under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the visit may be considered forfeited on those grounds alone.
10. If either party feels the other party has violated this Order, they may petition the Court as set forth in Pa.R.C.P. 1915.12.
If you would like to speak with Attorney Jana R. Barnett about a child custody matter, and learn how she can assist you, call her at 610-478-1860, or click here to send her an e-mail, and she will reply as quickly as possible.