The Pennsylvania Judiciary has provided updates regarding court-by-court operations and proceedings on the Coronavirus Information page at pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information. We continue to monitor developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on court operations.
By order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, all Pennsylvania Courts are generally closed to the public, beginning at the close of business March 19, 2020, and lasting through at least April 30, 2020, but essential functions will remain available. What is essential? Check your local court's order here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Custody and Support
Nothing in the Governor’s stay-at-home order or the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s emergency orders alters judicial authority regarding child custody under the Domestic Relations Code. However, under the statewide judicial emergency order, the President Judge of each judicial district has authority to modify any court order, see Pa.R.J.A. No. 1952(B)(2)(h), including orders respecting child custody. In so doing, the President Judge must act in accordance with the Domestic Relations Code’s general governing principle of “the best interest of the child.” See 23 Pa.C.S. § 5338(a) (“court may modify a custody order to serve the best interest of the child”). A party who is subject to a general child custody order issued by the President Judge pursuant to her emergency powers may petition the Court of Common Pleas to modify the order as it applies to the particular child in question.
Please refer to local court information posted on the Coronavirus information page on pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information.
During this unprecedented time, Pennsylvania’s vulnerable populations – especially the elderly – need protection now more than ever. While courts remain temporarily closed to the public, essential court functions are still accessible.
Stay vigilant against scams!
There have been nationwide reports of coronavirus-related scams going around – mainly targeting the elderly. Seniors are reminded to be leery of calls from unknown numbers requesting or demanding any kind of payment. Report fraud schemes related to Covid-19 to the National Center for Disaster Fraud: 1-866-720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pennsylvania Senior Medicare Patrol (PA-SMP) - Medicare fraud complaints
If you suspect Medicare fraud in Pennsylvania or have a question about Medicare fraud or abuse, call the SMP at CARIE at 1-800-356-3606 or use the online contact form here. Not sure what Medicare fraud looks like? Here are some examples:
- Your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) shows a charge for a service or piece of equipment that you didn’t get or shows that Medicare has been charged for the same service twice.
- Someone calls you on the phone and says they are “from Medicare” and asks for your personal information such as Medicare number, social security number, or bank account information. Remember, Medicare will *never* call or come to your door and ask for your personal information.
Are you being abused?
- Not sure? Become familiar with the red flags of abuse
- To report elder abuse, call the PA Department of Aging’s 24-hour hotline – 1-800-490-8505
- For anyone experiencing abuse at the hands of a domestic partner, here is helpful information and step-by-step instructions on how to quickly file for a protection order.
Pennsylvania Area Agencies on Aging
A public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting persons to services for older adults and their families. https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx
SeniorLAW Helpline 1-877-727-7529 (1-877-PA SR LAW)
SeniorLAW Center's Pennsylvania SeniorLAW Helpline is a free and confidential legal service for seniors, staffed by attorneys, providing legal information, advice, brief services and referrals to older Pennsylvanians 60 years and older, which are at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. Attorneys provide services on a wide range of civil legal issues, including elder abuse and family violence; financial exploitation and consumer issues, including COVID-19 scams and fraud; custody and resources for grandparents raising grandchildren; housing issues facing older tenants and homeowners; consumer protection; advance planning for health care and financial decision making; public benefits; pensions and retirement benefits; and accessing emergency protections during this time of court closures. Providing this service by telephone, SeniorLAW Center recognizes the distinct challenges and hardships facing older people and is keenly suited for this time of quarantine, isolation and obstacles of mobility and transportation. Please leave a brief message and staff will return your call as soon as possible.
Helpline hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Interpretation services in 150 languages are provided.
1.877.PA SR LAW (1.877.727.7529) (statewide)
Additional information is available at www.seniorlawcenter.org.
Emergency Guidelines set by the Governor
For emergency guidelines set by the Governor's Office see Responding to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.
Any legal papers or pleadings that are required to be filed between March 19, 2020, and April 30, 2020, shall be deemed to have been timely filed if they are filed by May 1, 2020, or on a later date as permitted by the appellate or local court in question. Further, unless otherwise indicated in the Supreme Court’s March 18, 2020, or April 1, 2020, Orders, all time calculations for purposes of time computation relevant to court cases or other judicial business, as well as time deadlines, are suspended through April 30, 2020, subject to additional orders.
For information on gun permits contact your local county sheriff.
Jury and non-jury trials have been suspended by Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Jurors should NOT report for jury duty on or before April 30, 2020 (with exception of ongoing trials per the Court's March 18 Order).
Juvenile Dependency proceedings are designed to protect abused and neglected children, while providing needed services to their families. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please call Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services ChildLine to make a confidential report at 1-800-932-0313. Per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order from March 18, emergency petitions pursuant to any provision of the Juvenile Act and Juvenile Dependency Shelter Hearings are considered essential functions. Please refer to local court information posted on the Coronavirus information page on pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information.
Per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Orders of March 18 and April 1, 2020, no judicial officer or person employed by the Pennsylvania Judiciary shall execute prior to May 1, 2020 an eviction, ejectment or other displacement from a residence based upon the failure to make a monetary payment (e.g. rent, local payment, property tax payment, etc.). Moreover, any execution on an order of possession is also stayed until May 1. Additional county information can be found on the Coronavirus information page on pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information.
Language services for individuals who speak limited English or are deaf or hard of hearing are essential to ensure that they are able to fully participate in judicial proceedings and court services, programs and activities in which their rights and interests are at stake. Contact your local Language Access Coordinator if you wish to request an interpreter for your case. Interpreters are available to work remotely or in person with due precautions.
Magisterial District Courts and Philadelphia Municipal Court
Closed to the public except for essential functions such as emergency protection petitions, issuance of search warrants, preliminary hearings for incarcerated persons only, preliminary arraignments for bailable cases, criminal case filings and subsequent processing, and any other function deemed essential by the President Judge.
Marriage Licenses and Wills
Please contact the local Register of Wills county office for more information.
During this pandemic, problem-solving court participants are encouraged to check in with their team of providers and county probation department. For additional guidance please refer to local court information posted on the coronavirus information page on pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information.
Emergency protection from abuse orders (PFA’s) are essential functions and will move forward during this pandemic. Find helpful information about protection orders and the steps involved in filing for a protection order, but please check local court information for any pandemic-specific amendments.
Services and Support for Individuals with Autism
For more information about services and support for individuals with autism visit:
- ASERT (Autism Services Education Resources and Training) at https://paautism.org/resource/justice/
- Department of Human Services https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Disabilities-Aging/Pages/Autism-Services.aspx
- Philly Autism Project https://www.phillyautismproject.org/covid/
Appellate Court Sessions
Appellate court sessions remain accessible through video conferencing. See schedules, protocolls and guidelines for livestreaming sessions:
Supreme Court May 2020 Session:http://www.pacourts.us/courts/supreme-court/may-2020-supreme-court-session
Superior Court Argument Calendar:http://www.pacourts.us/courts/superior-court/calendar
Commonwealth Court May 2020 Session:http://www.pacourts.us/courts/commonwealth-court/may-2020-commonwealth-court-argument-session
Pennsylvania’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
Family and friends who are unable to see loved ones living in long-term care facilities because of the COVID-19 emergency may struggle with changes in protocols, rights and policies. The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is available to help with a new statewide resource called Virtual Family Council.