One of the hottest issues today in family law involves custody relocation cases. If you or your spouse wants to move out of the area, that is going to have an impact on the existing custody arrangement where you both see your children on some set schedule. Whether you are a mother or the father, relocating with your child to another state can be a quite difficult decision. However, it is critical that the decision made is in the child’s best interests and does not undermine the custody or visitation rights of the other parent. Parents who are seeking to move out to another state should first consider getting the help of an experienced family lawyer or a child custody attorney to ensure that legal requirements are met before the relocation.

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If You Are The Relocating Parent

If you are the one relocating, you have the burden to persuade the court to grant relocation. However, the procedures for filing and relocating are exceptionally strict and the court has the right to order the child back in case the parent moves without attaining any court approval prior to moving.

In Pennsylvania, child custody laws require the parent (who wishes to relocate) to inform each and every individual with a custody right to the child of the proposed relocation. This notice should be in writing, and sent to each individual by mail, with a return receipt requested.

Generally, the notice is required to be given to each individual with the custodial rights at least 60 days before the proposed relocation. The notice should include detailed information pertaining to the proposed new residence, and school district, along with the date of the proposed relocation, why it is required, and a proposed custody order.

After receiving the notice of the proposed relocation, other parties have two choices, either to agree or disagree. In case a party disagrees, it will need to file an objection (Counter-Affidavit) with the court within thirty days of receiving notice of the proposed relocation. In case an objection is filed, the court will conduct a hearing where the party may raise objections on the proposed revised custody schedule, the proposed relocation, or both of these issues. In case there is no objection received within the given time limit, no party can object to the relocation in the future. However, even in the case that there are no objections filed, the relocating parent must file additional paperwork with the court, and the court may decide to hold another hearing even if the other parties do not object.

Factors The Court Will Consider

When deciding to reject or approve a proposed relocation, the court will consider a number of factors. A comprehensive list is not present as the court may decide to approve any of the factors that affect the best interest of the child. Some of these factors include (but are not limited to):

  • The child’s relationship with the relocating party
  • The child’s relationship with the non-relocating party
  • The likely impact of the relocation on the child
  • The reasons for relocation
  • Whether the relocation will improve the child’s life
  • The new employment for the relocating parent
  • The proximity to the extended family

If You Are The Non-Relocating/Non-Custodial Parent

In case you are the non-custodial parent, you should not take the situation for granted, you need a lawyer’s help to demonstrate a bad faith motive or if so, convince the court that the relocation would be detrimental to your child or even your parental rights. You need to thoroughly consider if the relocating parent is trying to alienate you from your children, what kind of support or quality of lifestyle would your child have in the new location?

For The Child

It is usually in the child’s best interests to have an ongoing, working relationship with noncustodial parent, especially in the case of relocations. As the existing parenting schedule might not be suitable after the move, the court may look at alternative schedules, such as extension of time during holidays, vacations, winter, or summer breaks.

Today a large number of divorced parents choose to relocate to better their chances of employment, to get better healthcare and retirement benefits in a new job and above all, make their children’s quality of life better.

Just be sure to have the best family lawyer so that you do not have to face any problems dealing with the relocation. For the best advice and the best family lawyers, contact us on attorneys@astorweiss.com.