For parents who share custody of their child of children, relocating to a different county, city, or state can be very tricky. There is a lengthy and complex process of custody relocation that can ultimately ends up before a judge who considers various factors.
23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5337(h) lays out the relevant factors the court will consider in determining whether to permit the proposed relocation by one party. The statute does not rank the factors in order of importance, nor does it provide any specific weight to any factor; the factors are all weighed equally when and if they are relevant to the case.
Some of the most pertinent factors to a general example of a proposal of relocation include: the extent and duration of the involvement of the party proposing relocation with the child as well as the non-relocating party, the age of the child, the needs of the child and the consideration of how the relocation will impact their physical, educational and emotional development, whether or not the relationship with the non-relocating party can be maintained and preserved and a working custody arrangement can be upheld, the child’s preference, the actions of either party in efforts to discourage a relationship with the other party, whether relocating will enhance the general quality of life of the child (this factor assesses financial and educational benefits to the child), the reasons behind why the party is proposing to relocate, and the assessment of any past abuse by either party.
Each case and each judge is different in determining whether or not to grant relocation. They have the ability to put extra weight on any factor listed above. In the past, judges have looked especially to the financial and educational benefits that the children will gain if relocated, as well as the additional factor of if the child will have a support system (extended family, etc.) in the new location.