Research guides

Self-Help

Custody & Support

This research guide is provided by Jenkins Law Library to help with research regarding custody and support in Pennsylvania and is not offered as legal advice. This guide is not a complete collection of law and commentary. There may be more laws or materials that are relevant to your issue than what is listed here, and further research may be required.

Please note, we have very limited materials on the topics of special relief and frozen bank accounts. For information on special relief, please see Pa.R.C.P. 1910.26 et seq and Sample Form 4.7 in the Library of Pennsylvania Family Law Forms book, available at the library. This form is meant to be used only as an example. You will most likely need to write your own documents for these matters.

Philadelphia Family Court Help Center (Child Custody)

Volunteers at the Philadelphia Family Court Help Center offers free legal information services about Child Custody.

Location: 1501 Arch Street, 11th Floor

Hours: Monday - Friday, 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Services Provided:

        • Child custody basics
        • How to file for custody (Sole, Primary, Shared, Partial, or Supervised Physical Custody)
        • How to file other custody petitions, including:
                • Petition to Modify Custody Order
                • Petition for Contempt of Custody
                • Motion for Expedited Listing
                • Emergency Petition for Custody
                • Motion for Home Investigation
                • Motion for Mental Health Assessment
                • Motions About Section 5329 Criminal Offenses
                • Motion for Reconsideration/Appeal
                • Custody Stipulation
                • Relocation
        • How to properly serve petitions/motions
        • How to prepare for custody conferences and hearings
        • A list of other resources

Note: The volunteers at the Help Center can provide information and forms, but are not able to provide legal advice. If you need legal advice about your particular circumstances you should contact an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may be able to obtain one by contacting the Philadelphia Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service at 215.238.6333.

Also see our Free or Low-Cost Legal Assistance and/or Find a Lawyer pages of this guide.

Online - Interactive Family Forms from Phila Legal Assistance

Philadelphia Legal Assistance has developed seven interactive forms for self-represented litigants in Pennsylvania family courts. These forms were developed with funding from a Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant and are available now on PALawHELP.org.

To find more interactive forms by topic from various other providers, search PALawHelp.org for "LawHelp Interactive" or for your specific topic, then select "Online Resources, Self-Help Resources and Forms" from the left side panel. See descriptions to individual forms for more information about jurisdictions (the location where a court can use its power) and providers.

Online - Phila Self-Help Videos: Custody, Support, PFA

Want to learn more about representing yourself in Philadelphia custody, support, or PFA cases? Philadelphia Legal Assistance developed the following "Make Your Case" videos. These are available in five languages from https://philalegal.org/video.

Preparing for a Custody Hearing

Preparing for Your Support Conference

Getting a Protection from Abuse Order

Online - PA

Child Custody Pennsylvania Bar Association
FAQ pamphlet on child custody issues in Pennsylvania (last updated 2013). PDF format.

Philadelphia Bar Association Family Law Resources
Contains forms and instructions (in PDF format) prepared through the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Pennsylvania Child Support Program Department of Human Service
Includes information and select forms for child support in Pennsylvania. Also links to the Pennsylvania Child Support Handbook, which also contains county Domestic Relations Sections telephone numbers.

Philadelphia Courts - First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Forms Center
Sample forms from Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas: Civil & Criminal Trial Division; Family Division; and Orphans' Court Division. Also includes forms from Municipal Court and Traffic Court.

See "Court of Common Pleas - Family Division, Domestic Relations" for forms related to custody and support. For subject manuals and brochures on a selection of legal topics, see the Brochures & Manuals page.

Representing Yourself - Custody Proceedings Unified Judicial System for Pennsylvania
Includes information and some standardized court forms for custody in PA courts. Also includes In forma pauperis forms (forms that ask the court to waive certain fees due to low income), links to county court websites, the PA Bar Association lawyer referral service, and a legal glossary.

Understanding When Grandparents and Others Can Seek Custody Pennsylvania Bar Association
FAQ pamphlet about the rights of grandparents and other third parties to seek custody of children in certain situations. PDF format.

PA Statutes & Court Rules

The following Pennsylvania statutes and court rules may help you get started on your research. Links are to free online resources when available, but you may need to conduct additional research at Jenkins.

Unofficial Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes (Westlaw)

        • For Custody, see 23 Pa.C.S. 5321 et seq & 23 Pa.C.S. 5401 et seq.
        • For Support, see 23 Pa.C.S. 4301 et seq.
        • Please note: Other Pennsylvania statutes may also apply to your situation. Check the index or conduct a search to find additional references.
        • To find more information about accessing the annotated version (a version with notes that explain or comment on the law) of the statutes in print at Jenkins or through other resources, please see the Pennsylvania Statutes guide.

Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure (pacode.com)

Additional Resources

Secondary materials, such as encyclopedias, practice guides, and treatises can be excellent tools for getting started. They will give you an overview of the law in a particular area and often provide very practical tips. For more information, including how to access the following through Lexis or Westlaw, please see the Pennsylvania Secondary Materials guide. For additional titles try searching our catalog.

The following practice and form book sets are available at Jenkins. Many of these sets include sample forms that can be accessed as electronic files from our in-house Lexis or Westlaw terminals when available. Please ask a librarian for assistance with this process.

Dunlap-Hanna Pennsylvania Forms LexisNexis
Also available on the library's Lexis computers.
See Volume 9, Chapter 104: "Custody" & Chapter 105: "Support".

Library of Pennsylvania Family Law Forms The Legal Intelligencer

Pennsylvania Child Custody: Law, Practice, and Procedure Bisel

Pennsylvania Support Practice Bisel

Pennsylvania Transaction Guide LexisNexis
Also available on the library's Lexis computers.
See Volume 15, Chapter 263: "Support" & Chapter 269: "Custody Provisions".

Philadelphia County Domestic Relations Practice Pennsylvania Bar Institute
See Chapter 2: "Custody" and Chapter 6: "Support." Also contains forms.