Custody Complaints, Petitions for Modification of an Existing Custody Order, Petitions for Contempt of an Existing Custody Order, and Petitions for Emergency Custody or Petitions for Special Relief are filed in the Prothonotary’s Office and sent to the Civil, Family, and Orphans’ Court Administration office for assignment.

All Custody Complaints, Petitions for Modification of an Existing Custody Order, and Petitions for Contempt of an Existing Custody Order are assigned to one of our Custody Conference Officers.  A custody conference will be scheduled which will be held by video conference in most instances.  Your contact person in Court Administration regarding the custody conferences is: 

Shinay Smith
Court Administrator’s Office
3rd Floor Suite 300

Dauphin County Courthouse
101 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA  17101
(717) 780-6621

Once the conferences are scheduled, Mrs. Smith will send the scheduling order to attorneys and self-represented parties.  This scheduling order asks that you provide Mrs. Smith with your email address so that she can send a video link to the conference.  This link will be sent approximately one week prior to your conference.  The scheduling order also provides information about the required co-parenting video.  You are to complete this video requirement prior to the date of your custody conference.


The Self-Help Center is in the Law Library on the 4th Floor of the Courthouse and has forms and instructions for the various custody filings mentioned above.  These forms and instructions may also be accessed at the Self-Help Center.

The custody conference is a formal proceeding whereby the parties, their attorneys, and the Custody Conference Officer work together to reach a parenting agreement as to the best interests of the child(ren).  If an agreement is reached at the custody conference, the Custody Conference Officer prepares a Custody Order and submits it to the Judge for signature.  If the parties do not reach an agreement, the case will be assigned to a Family Court Judge for trial.  The Custody Conference Officer will provide the Court with a Conference Summary Report outlining the parties’ positions and the Conference Officer’s observations, including the parties’ good faith efforts OR lack of such efforts. 


Sandra L. Meilton, Esquire
Lori K. Serratelli, Esquire
Tabetha A. Tanner, Esquire