Custody And Divorce Self-Help
Custody And Divorce Self-Help
Custody and Divorce is civil litigation and is a very serious matter. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you hire a Lawyer to represent you in any custody or divorce action. If you would like information about hiring a Lawyer, please call the Berks County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at 610-375-4591. If you choose not to hire a Lawyer, you may lose rights important to you. The court will expect you to follow the state and local rules of procedure the same as though you had a Lawyer representing you.
The information contained in the state forms and instructions is not a substitute for professional legal advice. No one in the Courts, Law Library, Prothonotary's Office or any other Court or County office can give you legal advice, tell you which form(s) you should file or help you fill out/complete the forms.
What the Court and County Staff Can and Cannot do to assist You?
Finding a Lawyer
In Berks County, you are entitled to have a Lawyer represent you, but you are not required to have a Lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer but would like to find one, contact the Berks County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (610) 375-4591. The Lawyer Referral Secretary will ask questions to determine what area of the law you need help with and will schedule you for a free consultation with a Lawyer who handles that type of cases. Although the consultation with the Lawyer is free, the Lawyer Referral Service has a fee that covers the administrative costs of the program. Please consult the Berks County Bar Association for the cost of the program. During the consultation, the Lawyer will discuss their fees with you. If you decide to hire the Lawyer after the initial consultation, you can, but you are not required to.
IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO HIRE A LAWYER, YOU CAN CONTACT:
- Mid-Penn Legal Services at 1-800-326-9177 to see if you qualify economically for free (Pro Bono) or reduced fee (Modest Means Program) representation.
If you represent yourself and do not have a Lawyer, you are still required to prepare, file and serve your legal documents correctly in compliance with the applicable state and local rules of procedure. Although the state website has some forms and instructions to assist you with representing yourself, use of these forms is NOT a substitute for professional legal advice. No one in the Courts, Law Library, Prothonotary's Office or any other Court or County office can give you legal advice, tell you which form(s) you should file or help you fill out/complete the forms.
Self-Represented Litigant Information
For statewide Custody and Divorce forms and instructions that can be used by someone who chooses not to hire a Lawyer, click on pacourts.us/learn/representing-yourself to go to the Administrative Office of PA Courts (AOPC) web page. In addition to the forms on the AOPC website, below is some local Berks County information to assist you if you choose to represent yourself.
Berks County Prothonotary’s Office
Berks County Prothonotary
Berks County Courthouse
2nd Floor633 Court Street
Reading, PA 19601
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Federal Holidays, Good Friday, General Election Day, and the Day After Thanksgiving
Local Legal Services Provider:
LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE OF THE BERKS COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
544 Court Street
Reading, Pennsylvania 19601
Method of Filing
Custody and Divorce documents can be filed by mail or in person at the Prothonotary's Office. Lawyers can also electronically file those documents. Self-represented litigants may be permitted or required to electronically file those documents in the future. Notice will be posted on the Prothonotary's website when electronic filing from self-represented litigants is either permitted or is mandatory.
Filing Fees For the current Prothonotary Fee Bill click here.
Where to File
You should file your completed documents in the Prothonotary's Office.
In addition to the statewide forms, please also file the Berks County Family Court Cover Sheet with all Custody and Divorce filings and file the Scheduling Order with all Custody Complaints or Petitions to Modify. Include one or more of the Appendixes below as appropriate with Custody Orders.
- APPENDIX A Self-Help
- APPENDIX B Self-Help
- APPENDIX C Self-Help
- Certificate of Addresses
- Custody Agreement Form and Instructions
- Custody Emergency Petition Forms and Instructions
- Custody Exceptions Forms and Instructions
- Family Court Cover Sheet
- IFP Forms and Instructions CIVIL
- IFP Forms and Instructions FAMILY
- Praecipe to Withdraw Action Forms and Instructions
- Scheduling Order