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A Divorce Hearing Officer is an attorney with experience in family law who has been appointed by the Court of Common Pleas to conduct the proceedings in a contested divorce action. The Divorce Hearing Officer will meet with the attorneys and the parties before a hearing is scheduled in order to identify the contested issues (which could include any or all of the following: fault divorce, two-year separation, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, division of property, temporary alimony pending the litigation, alimony after the divorce, counsel fees, costs, or expenses). The Divorce Hearing Officer will help the attorneys and the parties obtain the information necessary to resolve these issues (called "discovery"). This will help eliminate some of the disagreements and may enable the parties to resolve their issues through negotiation. The Divorce Hearing Officer will then conduct the hearing with respect to issues that cannot be resolved between the parties. This hearing will be conducted with the same formality as if it were being conducted by a Judge. After the hearing, the Divorce Hearing Officer will then write a formal report to the Court, recommending a resolution for these issues. If either party disagrees with the recommendation, he or she can ask a Judge to review it for errors by filing "exceptions." If the Judge finds errors in the Divorce Hearing Officer's Report, then the Judge may adopt a final order that differs from the Report. If exceptions are filed, the Judge will review the entire report, not just the parts addressed in the exceptions.
The Divorce Hearing Officers strongly recommend that every party to a divorce action consult with an attorney before deciding whether or not he or she needs an attorney. The law permits you to represent yourself in a divorce action, but there are several disadvantages to this course of action. Parties who represent themselves are referred to as "self-represented" parties. You can overcome the disadvantages of being a self-represented party through research and preparation, but it will take a great deal of time. You will be held to the same standards as an attorney in terms of complying with the rules and statutes, and you will not be given any leeway because you have chosen to represent yourself. If you are a self-represented party, it is vital that you keep the court informed of the mailing address and telephone number at which you can be contacted. Please see Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure (Pa.R.C.P.) 1930.8. The court has a specific form that you can use to report this information. You can download a copy of the Entry of Appearance as a Self-Represented Party form from the Court Forms Page.
If you don't have an attorney, you should contact "Attorney Connection," the lawyer referral system of the York County Bar Association by calling 717-854-8755 or Mid Penn Legal Services at 717-848-3605.
If you do not have money and meet the financial requirements, you might be able to obtain a lawyer for free. To find out, contact: Mid Penn Legal Services, 29 N Queen Street Number 1York PA 17403, Phone: 717-848-3605
If you have an attorney, you should call that attorney and ask. If you do not have an attorney and your case was filed in York County, then the Prothonotary can tell you which documents have been filed and whether any court proceedings have been scheduled. You can call the Prothonotary at 717-771-9611. If you are simply waiting for the decree to be signed, then the District Court Administrator can tell you whether the file has been sent to a judge for signature. You can call the District Court Administrator at 717-771-9234. Do not attempt to call an individual judge or hearing master to ask about your case. If you do, you will be told to call your attorney, the Prothonotary, or the District Court Administrator.
No. That would be an "ex parte communication." You are not permitted to talk to the court without the other side present. You must wait until you have a scheduled proceeding where both parties are present.