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Rule 1920.3*(a). Filing of Pleadings

All pleadings and legal papers filed pursuant to the Divorce Code or by separate petition relating to any matter involving the same family shall be filed with the Prothonotary and docketed to the same docket number.

Rule 1920.3*(b). Social Security Number and Address

Every pleading or petition filed pursuant to these rules which makes a separate claim for relief shall include in its caption the social security number and present address of each adult. If the social security number is not available or the address is not known, the pleading shall contain an averment so stating, together with an explanation.

Rule 1920.3*(c). Filing Fees

In all cases the plaintiff, upon filing of a complaint, shall pay to the prothonotary the sum of $75 as an administration fee, in addition to the required filing fees.

Rule 1920.4*(f). Service. Notice

Where service of the complaint is made by a competent adult, the affidavit of service shall include the method or means by which the affiant identified the defendant and shall state affiant's age and address.

Where service is made by mail, identification of defendant's signature on the return receipt shall be required. Such identification may be provided by an affidavit of the plaintiff.

1920.12*(d). Duplicate Original Complaints

An additional verified complaint in divorce shall be filed for each of the following claims set forth in the divorce complaint:

(1) Custody;
(2) Support;
(3) Equitable distribution;
(4) Other types of ancillary relief.

Rule 1920.12*(e). Marriage Certificate

The original or a copy of the marriage certificate shall be attached to the complaint in divorce. If the original or copy is unavailable, the complaint shall set forth an explanation and shall, if possible, provide other suitable documentary evidence.

Rule 1920.16*(a) Bifurcation

(1) Where a claim for equitable distribution, alimony or counsel fees and expenses is pending, a decree of divorce or annulment shall not be entered prior to filing of the master's report on equitable distribution, alimony or counsel fees except by agreement of the parties.

(2) Where the action is ready for the entry of a decree of divorce or annulment, but bifurcation is opposed, the court, upon application, shall enter an order substantially in the form prescribed by Bucks County Rule of Civil Procedure 1920.72*(e) so as to proceed with the resolution of all pending claims for alimony, equitable distribution of property, counsel fees and expenses.

Rule 1920.33*(f) Pre-Hearing Statement Deadline

(1) Pre-hearing statements shall be filed no later than 30 days from the date of filing of an application for non-record hearing by the master unless:

(a) The moving party demands a 60 day deadline.

(b) The non-moving party files a demand for a 60 day deadline. This demand must be filed with 10 days of receipt of service of the application for non-record hearing.

(2) Pre-trial statements shall be filed by both parties no later than 20 days prior to de novo hearing before the Court. Pre-trial statements shall be in the form of addendum to the statements filed prior to the master's hearing.

Rule 1920.33*(g). Failure to File Pre-Hearing Statement

(1) Specific testimony or evidence may be excluded at the master's hearing or at the hearing de novo when a party has failed to comply with Pa.R.C.P. 1920.33.

(2) The deadline for filing pre-hearing statements is modifiable only on written agreement or on a finding of good cause.

Rule 1920.33*(h). Form of Pre-Hearing Statement

The pre-hearing statement shall contain all of the information required by Pa.R.C.P. 1920.33(b), and shall contain all documentary exhibits which the party expects to offer in evidence, regardless of length.

Rule 1920.*35 Procedure as to Interim Counsel Fees and Expenses

(a) A request for interim counsel fees and expenses in divorce actions shall be made by petition and rule to show cause.

(b) The rule to show cause shall be given a return day for the filing of an answer and also a conference date with the assigned judge. The rule shall be substantially in the form prescribed by Bucks County R.C.P. 1920.72*(d).

(c) The petition shall include:

(1) Identification of all other pending litigation between the parties;

(2) Petitioner's income and expense statement in the form required by the practice and procedure governing an action for support, together with a true and correct copy of petitioner's most recent federal income tax return and pay stubs, if any, for the preceding six months;

(3) Petitioner's inventory and appraisement of all property owned or possessed in the form required by the practice and procedure governing an action for equitable distribution of property;

(4) The specific amounts claimed for interim counsel fees and expenses and any statement for services, bill, estimate, other itemization or explanation.

(d) The answer to the petition shall include:

(1) The respondent's income and expense and inventory and appraisement forms as required of petition in subsection (c)(2) and (3) above, together with a true copy of respondent's most recent federal income tax return and pay stubs, if any, for the preceding six months.

(2) A concise statement of respondent's position in regard to the amounts claimed by the petitioner.

(e) In the event that no answer is filed by the return day, upon praecipe and an affidavit of service of the petition, showing service more than ten (10) days before the return day the prothonotary shall make the rule absolute.

(f) Upon conference, the judge may enter an interim order recommending the allowance of specific amounts as interim counsel fees and expenses. If neither party files a motion for a hearing within ten (10) days thereafter, the recommendation shall be entered as a court order.

Rule 1920.42(d)*(3) Proceedings Upon Filing of Counter-Affidavit

When a counter-affidavit denies irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or two-year separation, either party may file a motion for record hearing before the permanent master on grounds for divorce.

Rule 1920.42*(f) Form of Decree

(1) The caption of the decree of divorce shall include the statutory grounds for the divorce.

(2) The decree shall not retain jurisdiction of ancillary claims or convert spousal support to alimony pendente lite except in accordance with Bucks County Court Rule 1920.16*(a).

(3) The decree shall incorporate a property settlement agreement only if one of the provisions of the agreement requests incorporation or if incorporation is requested in a separate written stipulation.

Rule 1920.51*(f) Permanent Masters

(1) All claims for divorce under Section 3301(a), (b) and (d)(1)(ii) of the Divorce Code, and all claims for annulment shall be heard by one of the permanent masters. The proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with Pa. R.C.P. 1920.55-2.

(2) All claims for equitable division of marital property, counsel fees, costs and expenses and any aspect thereof shall be heard by one of the permanent masters. The proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with Pa. R.C.P. 1920.55-3.

Rule 1920.51*(g) Application for Hearing. Objections to Applications. Forms. Times.

(1) Application for hearing by the master of related claims may be filed only after entry of an order approving grounds for divorce or annulment and after the moving party has complied with Pa. R.C.P. 1920.31(a)(1) and 1920.33(a), and with any orders entered pursuant to Bucks County Rule 1930.5*(c).

(2) The application for hearing shall be substantially in the form set out in the Bucks County Rule 1920.74*(c) and shall propose a deadline for filing of pre-hearing statements.

(3) The application for hearing shall be stricken by the master for failure of the moving party to comply with Pa. R.C.P. 1920.31(a)(1) and 1920.33(a), and with any orders entered pursuant to Bucks County Rule 1930.5*(c). A motion to strike shall be substantially in the form set out in Bucks County Rule 1920.74*(d), and shall be filed within 10 days of service of the application for hearing.

Rule 1920.51*(h). Scheduling of Hearing by Master

(1) All claims raised by either party for equitable distribution, alimony, counsel fees, costs and expenses shall be consolidated for non-record hearing before one of the standing masters.

(2) The hearing shall be scheduled upon filing by one of the parties of a pre-hearing statement. The date set for the hearing shall be no earlier than 14 days after the deadline for filing of pre-hearing statements.

Rule 1920.51*(i). Appointment, Compensation of Stenographers

In cases where record hearings are held before the permanent master on the issues of grounds for divorce or annulment, the master shall arrange for the presence of an official court stenographer employed by the county of Bucks. The moving party shall pay an attendance fee of $15 per diem to the stenographer upon completion of the hearing. However, where the testimony is transcribed, there shall be no attendance fee. In uncontested cases, the testimony shall be transcribed only at the direction of the master. When the testimony is transcribed, the costs of preparation of the original notes of testimony shall be born by the county, said notes to be for the exclusive use of the master and the Court. Parties wishing copies of notes must pay for copies at the prevailing statutory rate.

Rule 1920.53*(d) Prepared Record in Uncontested Cases

Prior to the hearing in uncontested cases in divorce or annulment, the attorney for the plaintiff may submit a record of testimony which shall be in writing bearing the caption of the case and consist of the following:

(1) The plaintiff's evidence, in question and answer form, and signed by plaintiff;

(2) Any exhibits which shall have been specifically identified in the plaintiff's evidence;

(3) The evidence of each witness, in question and answer form, and signed by the witness, a separate writing being required for each witness;

(4) The evidence of plaintiff and that of his witness in corroboration thereof, shall set forth all facts and incidents relied upon by plaintiff as constituting grounds for divorce in as nearly a chronological order as possible and shall specify the dates, times and places of the events described.

Rule 1920.53*(e) Uncontested Hearings Using Prepared Record of Testimony

In cases using the plaintiff's record of testimony the master's hearing shall be conducted as follows:

(1) The plaintiff and the witnesses shall swear to or affirm their pre-recorded evidence in the presence of the master;

(2) The master shall examine the plaintiff and the witnesses with respect to the evidence prepared in advance in order to evaluate the credibility of those offering pre-recorded evidence, and, to this end, may interrogate the plaintiff and the witnesses as to any relevant matters, whether or not included in the prepared record of testimony;

(3) The master, upon being satisfied that the Prepared Record of Testimony is based on credible evidence, shall accept it and include it in his report in lieu of Findings on the Merits, provided, however, that in the report the master certifies:

(a) that at the hearing in his presence the plaintiff and the witnesses offering pre-recorded evidence were placed under oath or affirmation and were examined by him and that they, by credible evidence substantiated the facts set forth in the Prepared Record of Testimony, and

(b) that no witness who was sworn or affirmed presented testimony or evidence to the contrary of facts set forth in the Prepared Record of Testimony.

Rule 1920.55-3(c)*(1). Demand for Hearing De Novo, Withdrawal

A written demand for a hearing de novo on claims for alimony, equitable distribution of marital property, counsel fees, costs and expenses may not be withdrawn without leave of Court unless the opposing party consents in writing to the withdrawal.

Rule 1920.*63 Discontinuance

An action for divorce, annulment or equitable division of marital property may not be withdrawn or discontinued without leave of court or a written agreement of the parties filed of record.

Rule 1920.71*(a) Offices to be Included in Notice to Defend and Claim Rights

(1) A list of marriage counselors is available in the Branch Office of the Prothonotary in the Family Division at 30 East Court Street, Doylestown, Pennsylvania 18901.

(2) Information regarding legal assistance is available at:

Bucks County Bar Association
135 East State Street
Doylestown, Pennsylvania 18901
Telephone (215) 348-9413; 1-800-479-8585

Rule 1920.72*(d) Form of Rule for Interim Counsel Fees and Expenses

RULE FOR INTERIM COUNSEL FEES AND EXPENSES

AND NOW, this

_____

day of

_____,

____

upon consideration of

the within petition, a Rule is granted upon the respondent to show cause

why interim counsel fees and expenses, as requested, should not be

be allowed.

Rule returnable the

___________

day of

____________,

___

Conference is fixed on the Petition and Answer for the

________

day of

_____________,

____________,

in Chambers.

 

____________________________

 

J. 


Rule 1920.72*(e). Form of Order Approving Grounds for Divorce.

ORDER

AND NOW, this day of , , upon review
of the record, the grounds for divorce are approved and the action is determined to be ready for the resolution of all pending claims for alimony, equitable distribution of property, counsel fees and expenses.

The matter is forwarded to the Office of the Master in Divorce for conference and hearing.

Rule 1920.74*(c). Form of Application for Hearing by Master on Related Claims.

1. An order approving grounds for divorce was entered on .

2. The following related claims have been raised:

By Plaintiff By Defendant

 

By Plaintiff

 

By Defendant

 

 

on:

 

on:

 

Equitable Distribution:

_____________

 

____________

 

Alimony:

_____________

 

____________

 

Counsel Fees:

_____________

 

____________

 

3. The following have been served:

 

By Plaintiff

 

By Defendant

 

 

on:

 

on:

 

Inventory:

_______________

 

____________

 

Tax Returns:

_______________

 

____________

 

Pay Stubs:

_______________

 

____________

 

Income and Expense Forms:

_______________

 

____________

 

4. The party filing this application has complied with all orders entered for the acquisition or sharing of information pursuant to Bucks County Rule 1920.22*(c). The other party has/has not complied with all such orders.

5. It is proposed that the deadline for filing of pre-hearing statements be set for:

a. 30 days from the date of filing this application on ._______________
b. 30 days from the date of filing this application on ._______________

7. It is requested that a hearing be scheduled.

8. I certify that a copy of this application was mailed to _____________
on __________________.

 

_____________________

 

Counsel for Husband/Wife 


Rule 1920.74*(d). Form of Motion to Strike Application for Hearing by Master.

It is requested that the application be stricken because:
______________A grounds order has not been entered.
______________Neither party has filed claims for equitable distribution, alimony or counsel fees.
______________The party seeking conference has not filed and served:
______________Inventory
______________Tax Return
______________Set of Pay Stubs
______________Income and Expense Forms
______________The party seeking conference has not complied with the order entered on
______________pursuant to Bucks County Rule 1920.22*(c) because

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________
I certify that a copy of this request was mailed to __________________
on _____________________.

 

____________________________

 

Counsel for Husband/Wife