Scheduling Matters before Divorce Hearing Officers
Within the time period as set forth in an Order of Court referring a matter to the Divorce Hearing Officers, counsel shall deliver, either via U.S. Mail or hand delivery the following items to the Family Division Support Docket Clerk (Room 4008 Family Court Facility):
1. A copy of the Order of Court that refers the matter to the Divorce Hearing Officers;
2. Payment via check or money order made payable to “Divorce Hearing Officer”; and
3. Correspondence indicating the email addresses for all counsel of record or any litigant who is not represented by counsel. In this letter, Counsel shall also state whether the matter has previously been scheduled before a Divorce Hearing Officer.
Upon receipt of all of the above-listed items, the Support Docket Clerk will reach out to counsel and unrepresented litigants to select a date before the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer.
Please note that the time allotted for each matter should comply with the chart attached to these Standard Operating Procedures.
All conciliations scheduled before Divorce Hearing Officers will proceed remotely via Microsoft TEAMS. All parties are required to be available for the entire duration of the conciliation. It is the preference of the Divorce Hearing Officers that the parties be physically present in his or her attorney’s office. However, at a minimum, the parties are required to have access to Microsoft TEAMS and be able to participate in the conciliation.
Equitable Distribution Conciliations: No later than five (5) days prior to the date scheduled for an Equitable Distribution Conciliation, each counsel/party SHALL submit a Marital Asset and Liability Summary (or updated MALS) via email to the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer and copied to the opposing counsel/party.
As the Divorce Hearing Officers may NOT have access to the DCR file, the MALS SHALL contain a brief narrative which includes, but is not limited to, the following background and procedural information:
* Date of Marriage;
* Date of Separation;
* Ages/Dates of Birth of parties;
* Educational Background of parties;
* Number of Children (minor and emancipated) and Ages/Dates of Birth;
* Employment of the parties and General Income Information;
* Any Prior Marriages of the parties;
* Existence of any executed Agreements between the parties (Pre-nup/Post-nup);
* Budget information, if relevant;
* Date of filing and service of Complaint in Divorce;
* Date of filing and service of any Answer/Counterclaim or Petition Raising Claims;
* Listing of all Counts raised/pending;
* Date(s) and amount(s) of any support Order(s);
* Date(s) and terms of any custody Orders;
* Identify any claims(s) that may have been consolidated with ED, such as support, discovery matters, other issues raised through Motions.
Important: The Divorce Hearing Officer may cancel the conciliation if Marital Asset and Liability Summaries are not timely submitted. A new fee will be required to be paid in order to secure a new conciliation date.
All discovery conferences scheduled before Divorce Hearing Officers will proceed remotely via Microsoft TEAMS. For matters where both parties are represented by counsel, the parties must be available to their counsel via telephone for the duration of the discovery conference but are not required to log in or participate via Microsoft TEAMS. For matters where one party is not represented by counsel, both parties must be available via Microsoft TEAMS for the duration of the discovery conference.
Discovery Matrix: No later than five (5) days prior to the date scheduled for a Discovery Conference/Hearing, both parties, through counsel, shall submit an updated Discovery Matrix to the Divorce Hearing Officer via email. If the Discovery Matrix exceeds
50 printed pages, then the parties shall deliver to the Divorce Hearing Officer hard copies of their Discovery Matrix.
All hearings before Divorce Hearing Officers will occur in person in the courtroom of the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer located at 700½ City-County Building. If the parties desire to proceed remotely via Microsoft TEAMS, an Order of Court must be obtained from the Court of Common Pleas Judge assigned to the case.
For all hearings, the Divorce Hearing Officers will proceed with hearings in hybrid format. At this time, only counsel, parties, and expert witnesses shall appear in person. All other witnesses will appear via Microsoft TEAMS. If there are witnesses other than parties and expert witnesses, counsel shall notify the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer via email no later than ten (10) days prior to the hearing date so that a TEAMS invitation may be created. The Divorce Hearing Officer will send the invitation to counsel for both parties, who shall be responsible for forwarding the invitation to their designated witnesses.
Pretrial Statements: Copies of each party’s Pretrial Statement shall be sent to the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer and opposing counsel via email in the time period as set forth in the Pretrial Order of Court.
Exhibit Binders: Counsel shall provide to the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer all trial exhibits, preferably in a trial binder format. (Plaintiffs shall use numbers; Defendants shall use letters). Care should be taken by counsel in preparing their exhibits to mark them, as best they can, in the order of presentation. Note that, at the option of the Divorce Hearing Officer, the exhibits may be renumbered (Plaintiff) or relettered (Defendant) in the order as they are introduced at the hearing.
• For hearings that are scheduled to proceed in person, exhibit binders shall be provided on the date of the scheduled hearing.
• For hearings that are scheduled to proceed via Microsoft TEAMS, all exhibit binders shall be delivered to the assigned Divorce Hearing Officer no later than three (3) business days prior to the scheduled hearing.
Contact Information for Family Division Divorce Hearing Officers
• Hand delivery or U.S. Mail: 414 Grant Street, 700 ½ City-County Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.