Pennsylvania Child Custody Law, Relocation or Moving Procedures
It is a normal occurrence in the life of most people to move from one home to another in the same county, a different county, or even out of state. When parents of a child do not live together and share custody of that child, moving to a new home is not as simple as it may seem. Custody law in Pennsylvania requires that parents follow a specific “relocation” procedure if the proposed move impacts the current custody arrangement.
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Relocation Under PA Child Custody Law – Does the Move Impact the Other Parent's Custody Rights?
Relocation is defined as “a change in residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of the non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights”.
Pennsylvania child custody law focuses on the residence of the child, versus of the residence of the parent. In other words, nothing in the law prevents you from moving to a new home on your own. The question is, if the child is moving with you, does this proposed move impact the child’s ability to have a relationship with the other parent?
For example, a mother in Montgomery County has joint physical and legal custody of her children. The father resides in Bucks County. The mother obtains a job offer in Virginia and would like to move the children with her to Virginia. In this situation, the move or relocation would clearly and significantly impact the custodial rights of the father.
What qualifies as a relocation depends heavily on the custody arrangement in place and the level of impact the proposed move has on the arrangement. A parent seeking to move with the child must follow specific procedures to either get agreement to relocate from the other parent or approval from the court before making the move.
Is Relocation Appropriate? What Pennsylvania Family Law Courts Evaluate
When evaluating whether a relocation is appropriate, Pennsylvania family law courts will evaluate the following factors:
- The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child’s relationship with the party proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child’s life.
- The age, developmental stage, needs of the child and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties.
- The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
- Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of either party to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party.
- Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the party seeking the relocation, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.
- Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.
- The reasons and motivation of each party for seeking or opposing the relocation.
- The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household and whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party.
- Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.
If you are considering moving with your child, make sure to contact your child custody attorney first to avoid unwanted consequences and ramifications.
Montgomery County, PA Child Custody Lawyer
For over a decade, firm founder Inna Materese has focused exclusively on family and divorce law in Pennsylvania. She is the Treasurer of the Montgomery County Bar Association Family Law Section and has presented a variety of Continuing Legal Education courses, including:
— Drafting Marital Settlement Agreements (2022)
— “Dysfunctional” Family Law (2021)
— Third Parties in Custody Cases (2020)
— The Math of Divorce (2016)
— Tax Implications in Divorce (2015)
Our Montgomery County Family Law Firm accepts clients across the county, including: Ambler, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Lansdale, Oreland, Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, as well as the Main Line: Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Merion, Narberth.
Pennsylvania Family & Divorce Law
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