Rule 1910.12. Office Conference. Hearing. Record. Exceptions. Order.
(a) There shall be an office conference as provided by Rule 1910.11(a) through (d). The provisions of Rule 1910.11(d)(3) and (4) regarding income information apply in cases proceeding pursuant to Rule 1910.12.
(b)(1) At the conclusion of a conference attended by both parties, if an agreement for support has not been reached, and the conference and hearing are not scheduled on the same day, the court, without hearing the parties, shall enter an interim order calculated in accordance with the guidelines and substantially in the form set forth in Rule 1910.27(e), and the parties shall be given notice of the date, time and place of a hearing. A record hearing shall be conducted by a hearing officer who must be a lawyer.
(2) If either party, having been properly served, fails to attend the conference, the court may enter an interim order calculated in accordance with the guidelines and substantially in the form set forth in Rule 1910.27(e). Within twenty days after the date of receipt or the date of mailing of the interim order, whichever occurs first, either party may demand a hearing before a hearing officer. If no hearing is requested, the order shall become final.
(3) Any lawyer serving as a hearing officer employed by, or under contract with, a judicial district or appointed by the court shall not practice family law before a conference officer, hearing officer, permanent or standing master, or judge of the same judicial district.
Conference officers preside at office conferences under Rule 1910.11. Hearing officers preside at hearings under Rule 1910.12. The appointment of masters to hear actions in divorce or for annulment of marriage is authorized by Rule 1920.51.
(c)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (c)(2), promptly after conclusion of the conference, a party may move the court for a separate listing of the hearing where:
(i) there are complex questions of law, fact or both; or
(ii) the hearing will be protracted; or
(iii) the orderly administration of justice requires that the hearing be listed separately.
(2) Where the conference and hearing are scheduled on the same day, all requests for separate listing must be presented to the court at least seven days prior to the scheduled court date.
(3) If the motion for separate listing is granted, discovery shall be available in accordance with Rule 4001 et seq.
The rule relating to discovery in domestic relations matters generally is Rule 1930.5.
(d) The hearing officer shall receive evidence, hear argument and, not later than 20 days after the close of the record, file with the court a report containing a recommendation with respect to the entry of an order of support. The report may be in narrative form stating the reasons for the recommendation and shall include a proposed order substantially in the form set forth in Rule 1910.27(e) stating:
(1) the amount of support calculated in accordance with the guidelines;
(2) by and for whom it shall be paid; and
(3) the effective date of the order.
(e) The court, without hearing the parties, shall enter an interim order consistent with the proposed order of the hearing officer. Each party shall be provided, either in person at the time of the hearing or by mail, with a copy of the interim order and written notice that any party may, within twenty days after the date of receipt or the date of mailing of the order, whichever occurs first, file with the domestic relations section written exceptions to the report of the hearing officer and interim order.
Objections to the entry of an interim order consistent with the proposed order may be addressed pursuant to Rule 1910.26.
(f) Within twenty days after the date of receipt or the date of mailing of the report by the hearing officer, whichever occurs first, any party may file exceptions to the report or any part thereof, to rulings on objections to evidence, to statements or findings of facts, to conclusions of law, or to any other matters occurring during the hearing. Each exception shall set forth a separate objection precisely and without discussion. Matters not covered by exceptions are deemed waived unless, prior to entry of the final order, leave is granted to file exceptions raising those matters. If exceptions are filed, any other party may file exceptions within twenty days of the date of service of the original exceptions.
(g) If no exceptions are filed within the twenty-day period, the interim order shall constitute a final order.
(h) If exceptions are filed, the interim order shall continue in effect. The court shall hear argument on the exceptions and enter an appropriate final order substantially in the form set forth in Rule 1910.27(e) within sixty days from the date of the filing of exceptions to the interim order. No motion for post-trial relief may be filed to the final order.
Language is added to subdivision (b) to acknowledge that the conference and hearing can be held on the same day, and to provide for the immediate entry of an interim order in judicial districts where the hearing occurs at a later date. New subdivision (b)(2) permits entry of a guideline order after a conference which the defendant, though properly served, fails to attend. New subdivision (c)(2) is intended to prevent delays in the hearing of complex cases by requiring that requests for separate listing be made at least seven days in advance where the conference and hearing are scheduled on the same day.
In addition, the phrase record hearing in subdivision (a) replaces the reference to a stenographic record in recognition of the variety of means available to create a reliable record of support proceedings.
Amended subdivision (e) allows an interim order to be entered and served on the parties at the conclusion of the hearing, rather than after the expiration of the exceptions period as was true under the old rule. In addition, the amended subdivision requires that the interim order include language advising the parties of their right to file exceptions within ten days of the date of the order.
Support payments are due and owing under the interim order which continues in effect until the court enters a final order after considering the parties exceptions. Therefore, extension of the deadline for entering the final order by fifteen days does not prejudice the persons dependent upon payment of the support.
The time for filing exceptions has been expanded from ten to twenty days. The purpose of this amendment is to provide ample opportunity for litigants and counsel to receive notice of the entry of the order, to assure commonwealth-wide consistency in calculation of time for filing and to conform to applicable general civil procedural rules.
The provisions of this Rule 1910.12 adopted April 23, 1981, effective July 22, 1981, 11 Pa.B. 1625; amended October 19, 1983, effective January 1, 1984, 13 Pa.B. 3629; amended March 23, 1987, effective July 1, 1987, 17 Pa.B. 1499; amended November 7, 1988, effective January 1, 1989, 18 Pa.B. 5326; amended September 29, 1989, effective October 15, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 4451; corrected October 27, 1989, effective October 15, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 4603; amended March 30, 1994, effective July 1, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 1953; amended September 28, 1995, effective January 1, 1996, 25 Pa.B. 4095; amended May 5, 1997, effective July 1, 1997, 27 Pa.B. 2532; amended May 31, 2000, effective July 1, 2000, 30 Pa.B. 3155; amended August 8, 2006, effective immediately, 36 Pa.B. 4709; amended August 26, 2011, effective November 1, 2011, 41 Pa.B. 4847; amended December 23, 2011, effective January 31, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 379, 545; amended July 2, 2014, effective in 30 days on August 1, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 4476; amended March 4, 2015, effective in 30 days on April 3, 2015, 45 Pa.B. 1354. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (373025) to (373027).
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