After divorce, people may decide to relocate for many different reasons. Maybe they move for a job, a new love interest, or to make a fresh start. When children are involved, the relocation process is a bit more complicated. Before making a move, parents should know Pennsylvania’s child custody relocation laws.
Pennsylvania Child Custody Law calls “relocation” any change in residence for a child that greatly impacts the ability of the other parent to practice their “custodial rights.” That could be a move across the country, out of state, or even a few hours away. When one custodial parent wants to move their children far away that it affects the amount of time with which the other parent gets to see them, legal procedures are involved.
The parent seeking to relocate must obtain approval from the other parent, or any other person with custodial rights to the children. In some cases, the relocating parent may need a court order granting permission to move the child.
At least 60 days before the proposed move, the relocating parent must submit a Notice of Proposed Relocation to the other parent via certified mail with a return receipt request. The notice must include the following:
The Notice of Proposed Relocation also needs to include an affidavit for the other parent to respond to the relocation notice and revised custody schedule. Should the non-relocating parent object to the move, they must file their objection with the court within 30 days of receiving the notice, sending a copy to the other parent. If the non-relocating parent fails to comply with the law regarding objections, their move to prevent the relocation may be invalid.
After receiving the objection, the court schedules a hearing to resolve the dispute. The parent wishing to relocate must demonstrate they are relocating in good faith and that the move is good for the well-being of both parent and child. At the same time, the non-relocating parent must prove that it is not in the child’s best interests to relocate, possibly using evidence or witness testimony. The court weighs both arguments and makes a decision on the relocation based upon the best interests or the child.
Even if the court rules against the child’s relocation, the parent seeking to move can still do so without the children. The court then amends the child custody order, allowing the child to remain with the non-relocating parent. If no formal child custody order is in place, relocation laws still apply in Pennsylvania.
Many parents want to relocate with their children after divorce in the hopes of making a new start. However, without the assistance of an experienced Media child custody lawyer, you risk jeopardizing your custodial rights.
Associates at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. bring knowledge and compassion to every family law case they handle. With offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Chester County. Call us today at 610-565-3700 or contact us online.