Relocation and Child Custody in Pennsylvania: How to Make a Fresh Start

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When a custodial parent decides to relocate (i.e., move) with their child, both of the child’s parents must consent to the relocation. If one of the child’s parents objects to the move, the court must then approve of the relocation before the other parent can move with the child.

Relocation with a Child in PA

Pennsylvania broadly defines relocation as “a change in a residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights.”

Because the statute is so broadly defined, relocation does not simply mean moving out of state. Relocation can occur when a parent and child move from one county to the next or even over a certain number of miles.

If there is already a custody order in place, the relocating custodial parent must obtain the consent of the non-custodial party by first serving them with a notice of proposed relocation sixty days prior to their intended moving date.

Notice of Proposed Relocation

The notice of proposed relocation must include information like the new intended address of the relocation parent and child, the names and ages of all parties who intend to reside with the child at their new intended residence, the names of the new schools and school districts the child is intended to attend, and a sufficient reasoning for the relocation, among other requirements.

Additionally, a proper warning to the non-relocating parent must be included in the notice of proposed relocation.

If the non-custodial parent fails to object to the proposed relocation within thirty days, they will lose their right to object to the relocation.

If, however, the non-custodial parent files objections to the relocation, a hearing on the relocation will take place. Of course, this means that the parent who intended to move may have to postpone their move temporarily while the court makes its determination.

Factors the Court Will Consider

The court will review ten factors in determining whether to grant a proposed relocation. The parent seeking to relocate will have to provide evidence, documentation, and possibly witnesses to establish that the move is in the best interest of the child. This evidence will be weighed in accordance with the ten custody relocation factors.

Some of the relocation factors include the nature, quality, and extent of contact the child has with the non-custodial parent, the age and development needs of the child, and whether the move will enhance the general quality of the child’s life. The ten factors are weighed equally—no one factor is afforded greater weight than the others.

Even if the non-custodial parent does not object to relocation, the courts generally require a consent order to be drafted and filed by the relocating parent to show that the other parent does not object.

Negative consequences can occur if a custodial parent fails to follow the relocation requirements. For example, the court could award primary custody of the child to the non-custodial parent, issue an order that the child be returned to the county in which he or she previously resided, or deny the relocating parent’s request.

Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer

If you are thinking about relocating with your child or the other parent has threatened to move, contact the knowledgeable Pennsylvania family law attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C. to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.

To get in touch, you may complete our online contact questionnaire or call our office directly at 1-844-VARI-LAW (827-4529). Allow us to simplify the relocation process for you.