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Child Custody
Civil / Family / Motion / Miscellaneous Court Division

The Family Court Office provides court forms and intake assistance to persons seeking a court order involving custody or visitation of minor children. The Family Court staff does not provide legal advice. Forms and instructions for filing for Child Custody are available at the Self Help Section.

COPE (Co-Parenting Education Program)

All parties to a custody action must attend a class on the importance of cooperative parenting between separated parents. This three-hour class is offered twice a month in the Courthouse, once on Saturday morning and once on Wednesday evening. Parents are not required to attend the same class. The program is presented by A New Dawn Family Solutions, LLC. Failure to comply with an Order to attend COPE may result in a finding of contempt, and sanctions imposed by the Court.

  • To view the COPE Schedule and download the registration form in English, click here.
  • To view the COPE Schedule and download the registration form in Spanish, click here.
  • To register and pay online visit the website of A New Dawn Family Solutions, LLC.

Who May Seek Custody?

Generally, a custody case involves a mother and a father who are separated. Grandparents may also be involved in a case when the parents live separately, or when one parent is deceased. Others may file for custody if they meet strict legal requirements.

How To File For Custody

If you have an attorney, he or she will file the necessary paperwork and obtain a date for your court appearance. If you do not have an attorney, you may file pro se (on your own).

Effective January 1, 2020, except as specifically exempted by the Court, electronic filing will be mandatory in all new and pending Custody Cases. Information regarding registration, independent filer instructions, and Family Court Guidelines are available under the Self-Help section of the Lehigh County File & Serve site at Forms for filing for child custody are available on this website. You will be given a date and time for conciliation conference after submitting your filings through Staff assistance and computer kiosks are available for custody filling at the Family Court Office, Room 423 between 12:15 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

Get Child Custody Self Help

Changes to a Custody Order

The Court may change an order for custody when necessary to protect the best interests of the child. A party may petition the court to modify an order when he or she believes circumstances require a change. If a court order is not being followed, a party may file a Petition for Contempt. If the person with whom the child lives wants to move away from Lehigh County, he or she must file a Petition for Modification/Relocation. In all of these cases, the parties will meet with a hearing officer in an effort to reach a settlement. If settlement efforts are unsuccessful, a hearing will be scheduled before a hearing officer or judge.

For More Information

The Family Court Office can answer questions on court procedures. The staff cannot provide legal advice. Forms and instructions for filing for Child Custody are available at the Self Help Section. For help finding an attorney contact the Bar Association of Lehigh County, Lawyer Referral Service, (610) 433-7094. Low income persons may qualify for the Custody Workshop, offered by North Penn Legal Services (610) 317-8757.

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Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, 455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101-1614 • (610) 782-3000