Life has a way of being unpredictable. Perhaps your job recommends you relocate across Pennsylvania for a better opportunity, or you find a deal you can't pass up on housing that's more than a few miles away from your current home. While all these new things life brings your way are exciting, there's a lot to consider with a child in the picture. And if there's a child custody agreement between you and your ex, relocation will change everything.
If you're a parent who may have to relocate, you have options. Pennsylvania child custody law directly addresses relocation and lays out specific guidelines regarding whether your move constitutes “relocation”, how to give formal notice to the other parent, and the factors that influence a judge's ultimate decision.
What Constitutes “Relocation?”
Pennsylvania law has a relatively vague definition of relocation. It defines it as “a change in a residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights." Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania's definition doesn't specify whether or not it is applicable to people who plan to move out of the state or people moving beyond a certain mile radius.
You should contact an attorney to determine if your move constitutes relocation under Pennsylvania law in the first place.
How Do I Inform the Other Parent That I Want to Relocate?
Obviously, you can't just pack up your stuff and move. In order to legally relocate with a custody agreement in place, state law dictates that everyone who has custody rights to the child must consent to the move, or the judge must approve the relocation. Notification of your plans to the other parent must be carried out specifically, the law outlines.
The notice must be sent by mail, return receipt requested, and sent out no later than the 60th day before the date of the proposed relocation, or the 10th day after you've been made aware of the relocation. The 10-day rule only applies if you did not know or could not have reasonably known in enough time to make the 60-day required notice and if it isn't possible to delay your relocation date for a later time.
The following information must be included in the notice:
- The address of the intended new residence and the mailing address
- The names and ages of the people who currently live, or intend to move in the new residence
- The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if applicable
- The name of the new school district and school
- The date of the proposed relocation
- A proposal for a revised custody schedule
- Any other information in which you think is appropriate to include
- A counter-affidavit - which can be used by the other parent to object to the proposed relocation
If you're a victim of abuse, your address and other location identifying information will be left out.
The other parent has 30 days to file an objection. If the other parent disagrees with the move, a judge will hold a hearing to decide if you can relocate despite the objection.
What Factors Will A Judge Consider When Deciding If I Can Relocate?
The judge will consider the following factors in your child custody relocation hearing:
- The quality and depth of the child's relationship with you and the other parent
- The development stage and age of the child, along with how the relocation will affect the child's physical, emotional and mental development
- The likelihood of maintaining a positive relationship between the child and the other parent if the move ensues
- The child's preference
- Your true motivations for seeking relocation and of the other parent opposing relocation
- Any other factor that affects the best interest of the child
Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
If you want results in any child custody hearing, you need the help of a seasoned Pennsylvania family law attorney. Schedule a consultation with Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm today by phone at 888-535-3686.