Child Custody & Relocation in Pennsylvania - An Overview
If a custodial parent wishes to relocate, they must obtain the consent of anyone else with custodial rights or the court’s approval. It is important to note that legally relocation is considered a change in a child and parent’s residence that impairs non-relocating parties from exercising their custodial rights. Thus, these relocations apply to moves involving a significant distance.
The Process of Requesting a Change in Custody or Relocation
In Pennsylvania, relocating with a child after divorce or separation requires certain steps to ensure that custody is amicably and legally arranged. Generally speaking, a parent must provide written notice to the other informing them of their plans and the reasons for relocation, and the other party must give their consent for the move.
This notice must be given to every party with custodial rights at least 60 days before the move. The notice should include:
- Your new address and contact information
- The names, ages, and information of anyone who will live at the new address
- The child’s new school district and school
- The proposed date of relocation
- The reason for relocation
- A proposed new custody and visitation schedule
- Any other pertinent information about the proposed relocation
If the other party consents to the move, you can file the following documents with the court:
- an affidavit stating your gave notice,
- proof that you gave the other party notice,
- a copy of the relocation notice,
- a petition to confirm the relocation and modification of custody, and
- a proposed custody modification.
If the other party does not consent to the relocation, the parent who wishes to relocate must then petition the court for permission to relocate. Ultimately, it is up to the court to decide if relocation should be permitted). Both sides must present their case before coming to an arrangement that works best for everyone involved.
Factors the Court Will Consider When Ruling on a Relocation Request
When making decisions regarding the custody or relocation of children, it is important to remember that judges are required to consider a variety of factors. Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 5337, these factors may include:
- The advantages of the proposed move (i.e. whether the child or custodial parent’s life will improve, etc.)
- The relocating parent’s motivations for moving
- The validity of the other party’s objections
- The availability of the non-relocating parent to meet the demands of a changed visitation schedule
- The child’s age, developmental stage, and needs
- The child’s preference
- Any other relevant factors
Judges must also take into account any other special circumstances that may affect the life and safety of parents or children. Ultimately, courts strive to make rulings that represent what it in a child's best interests.
How to Prepare for Your Relocation Hearing
Preparing for a relocation hearing takes time and commitment. The best way to prepare is to retain the services of an attorney who understands the applicable laws and is equipped to represent you. In addition to working with an attorney, you can also:
- Research your potential new location/area. This knowledge can be helpful as it may be discussed during the hearing. Consider what the new area/location offers you and your child as well as the area’s safety and benefits.
- Organize your relevant documents. If you have a new lease agreements, proof of steady income or a new job, or other documents that support your need for relocation, this evidence can be used to support your case.
- Make a list of questions or key points. If you are the nonmoving party, you may have questions or concerns that you should write down so that you do not forget anything during the hearing.
Get Legal Help
If you are facing a child custody or relocation battle in Pennsylvania, it is important that you consult with the experienced attorneys at . With the help of our firm, you can more smoothly navigate the process and achieve a favorable outcome. Our attorneys have over two decades of collective experience and are committed to offering our clients personalized counsel.The team at William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys has extensive experience handling child custody and relocation cases in Pennsylvania and would be happy to help you with your case. Call (215) 515-9901 or reach out online to schedule an initial consultation.