Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny
Family | Child Custody



HOW DO I FILE FOR CUSTODY?

  1. If you have an attorney, contact your attorney.

  2. If you are representing yourself, please review the custody forms listed at the bottom of this page. You must comply with the Public Access Policy.

  3. If you already have a custody order, and would like to change it, attach a copy of your current custody order and download and complete the following found at the bottom of this page:
  • Petition for Modification of a Custody Order
  • Remote Client Information Sheet
  • Criminal Record/Abuse History Verification Form
  • Self-Represented Litigant Form
  1. If you already have a custody order, and a party is not following the custody order, attach a copy of your current custody order and download and complete the following found at the bottom of this page:
  • Petition for Civil Contempt/Disobedience of a Custody Order
  • Remote Client Information Sheet
  • Criminal Record/Abuse History Verification Form
  • Self-Represented Litigant Form

PLEASE NOTE:

For a party to be found in contempt, you must prove that they willfully disobeyed the custody order. Please be prepared to provide the specific instances (dates and times) that the custody order was not followed. You cannot request a change in custody by filing a petition for civil contempt. Also, a party cannot be found in contempt for failing to exercise their custody time as ordered.

  1. If you do not have a custody order and would like to file for custody, download and complete the following found at the bottom of this page:
  • Complaint in Custody
  • Remote Client Information Sheet
  • Criminal Record/Abuse History Verification Form
  • Self-Represented Litigant Form

PLEASE NOTE:

If you are not a biological parent of a child(ren), first determine if you have standing, which is legal permission to file for custody. If the Court determines that you do not have standing, your complaint in custody will be dismissed.

Carefully consider if Allegheny County is the appropriate place to file for custody. Jurisdiction/venue generally rests in the county where the child(ren) have been residing for the past six months. If the Court determines that Allegheny County is not the appropriate forum to handle your custody case, your complaint in custody will be dismissed.

  1. Take all your completed forms (unredacted original and redacted copy) to the Allegheny County Department of Court Records (DCR) at 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 to file and pay the filing fee. For the fee schedule and information on hours of operation and acceptable forms of payment, go to www.dcr.alleghenycounty.us. All filing fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.
  • If you are unable to pay the filing fee, please contact the Custody Department by email at custodydepartment@alleghenycourts.us or by phone at 412-350-4311 for more information.
  • Under certain, limited circumstances, the Court may waive your filing fee. Waivers are generally granted for litigants who are receiving cash benefits or SSI from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and have no other source of income. If you and/or an adult member of your household are earning income, you must demonstrate to the Court that you are indigent by providing paystubs and tax returns for yourself and every adult member of your household.
  1. You must give notice to the other party within thirty (30) days of filing. It is your responsibility to ensure that a copy of your custody complaint/petition, Remote Client Information Form, and Domestic Violence Waiver are served on the other party. The Court WILL NOT make service for you and your case will not be scheduled until you have proved service. For more information on service, click here. Once you have served the other party, download and complete the Certificate of Service. File this form with the DCR and provide a copy to the Custody Department by email at custodydepartment@alleghenycourts.us or regular mail at Family Law Center Custody Department, 440 Ross Street, Suite 1030, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

Complaint for Custody (rev. 9/20)
Petition for Modification of a Custody Order (rev. 6/20)
Petition for Civil Contempt for Disobedience of a Custody Order (rev. 6/20)
Remote Client Information Form (rev. 6/20)
Generations Domestic Violence Waiver (rev. 6/20)
Certificate of Service (rev. 6/20)
Abuse History Verification (rev. 6/20)
Entry of Appearance as Self-Represented Party (rev. 6/20)