Discovery is the process of obtaining information from the opposing party in the course of a lawsuit. Discovery is governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure (Pa. R.C.P.). Rule 1930.5 states that there shall be no discovery in a simple support, custody or Protection from Abuse proceeding unless authorized by court. In order for you to be allowed to send discovery in a support matter, you must get your case deemed complex by the court. An example of a potentially complex support case requiring discovery would be one where one, or both, of the parties are self-employed. Procedure in Bucks County calls for a hearing date on the issue of whether or not discovery should be permitted. If so, the substantive portion of the hearing will be postponed pending completion of discovery as granted.
Bucks County will hold its National Adoption Day, tomorrow, November 21, 2014. The celebration begins at 11 a.m. on the third floor of the main courthouse in Doylestown, PA. The celebration is spearheaded by the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency as well as the Register of Wills and Orphans' Court. This year Pearl S. Buck International and Love the Children are being honored for their work in finding homes for children. A brief reception will follow the awards.
Bucks County has several upcoming "Wills for Heroes" events. This is a program in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Bar Association that provides free wills, living wills, and powers of attorney to first responders and their spouses/significant others. Appointments are required and can be made on the Pennsylvania Bar Association website. Each appointment is for one hour. At the conclusion of the appointment, each participant will have their final, notarized documents to take home with them. If a spouse or significant other is also participating, their appointment will be immediately following that of the first responder. The program is made possible through the time of volunteers including attorneys, reviewers and witnesses.
The Court Conciliation and Evaluation Service, or CCES for short, is a program in Bucks County that conducts custody evaluations for pending court cases. Parties to a custody matter would participate in a series of sessions with an assigned evaluator. The goal of the program is to facilitate an ideal co-parenting relationship that provides for the best interests of the child(ren) involved. The end result of the program is either an agreement on custody or a full clinical report including a recommendation which is then provided to the court. In addition to the parents and the children, additional parties can be interviewed as part of the CCES process based on their role in the parties' lives or unique insight they may be able to provide. On average, it takes 6-8 weeks for the process to be completed with the report due to the court within 45 days of the final session. An expedited evaluation which is completed in a matter of days is possible only in emergency situations or when one or both of the parties live out-of-state.
A U.S. Court will recognize a foreign divorce decree under the doctrine of comity so long as the party has established domicile in the foreign country. As discussed in Hilkmann v. Hilkmann, [c]omity is a recognition which one nation extends within its own territory to the legislative, executive, or judicial acts of another. It is not a rule of law, but one of practice, convenience, and expediency. Although more than mere courtesy and accommodation, comity does not achieve the force of an imperative or obligation...Comity should be withheld only when its acceptance would be contrary or prejudicial to the interest of the nation called upon to give it effect. 2003 PA Super 25 (2005). A U.S. Court will invoke comity by its discretion and will usually look at two factors: whether the foreign court had jurisdiction, and whether fair procedures were used.
Our area is still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The storm's strong winds and rain caused widespread damage over a large area of the nation. Specifically, southeastern Pennsylvania is still dealing with power outages due to downed trees and wires. Many government offices, schools and local courts were forced to close Monday and Tuesday of this week. At this point, all local courts in southeastern PA are open and may be contacted as far as any matters that need to be rescheduled. Our office hopes everyone has remained safe during the storm. We will continue to work hard to assist you in all your family law needs as our communities continue to recover from the aftermath.