Dauphin County Establishes Family CourtJanuary 10, 2015
New Family Court Created in Dauphin County
2015 brings with it some exciting changes to the Dauphin County Court with the establishment of a Family Court. Prior to the establishment of Family Court, most family law matters were handled on a rotation basis by all ten of the Dauphin County Judges. With the implementation of a Family Court, these matters will be assigned to and heard by three Judges who will, with some limited exception, focus solely on family matters. From my perspective, one of the major benefits of the new system is that it will implement practices that will assure a “one family-one judge” approach to resolution of issues presented by families in conflict. Previously, the assignment of cases on a rotation basis meant that one family might have matters heard by a different Judge each time they found it necessary to turn to the Court for assistance. For example, a custody matter might be heard by one Judge while a support matter would be assigned to another. If parties found themselves in need of emergency relief on an economic matter, a third Judge might be assigned to the matter. Under the new system, when a family matter first enters the system, the case will be assigned to one of three Family Court Judges. Once that assignment is made, the Family Court Judge to whom the matter was assigned will hear all subsequent matters involving the family. This approach will assure that the Judge hearing any issue is fully aware of the family’s history with the Court and will provide for quicker, more efficient, resolution of issues.
The Family Court will be administered by the Honorable Jeannine Turgeon. The Honorable William T. Tully and The Honorable Bernard L. Coates, Jr. will round out the Court.
Permanent Sitting Divorce Master
As part of the changes implemented with the establishment of the Family Court is the move to a Permanent Sitting Divorce Master, and the expansion of persons required to attend an educational seminar when the family has minor children. See my next post for a brief discussion of these changes.