Child Relocation in Pennsylvania

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

Child relocation in Pennsylvania is subject to a formal legal procedure that was established in October of 2012. “Relocation,” under the Custody Statute in Pennsylvania, occurs when a parent, whether or not there is a Custody Order, decides that he or she wishes to move with a minor child, such a distance from his or her current home, and that move significantly  impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial or visitation rights.

Are you seeking to relocate with your child? 

Is your ex asking the court for permission to relocate with your child, and you oppose the move? 

Give us a call. Our child custody attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. have over forty years of experience helping divorced parents deal with their co-parenting issues. Put our experience to work for you.

Pennsylvania’s Process for Child Relocation

First, a party wishing to relocate must complete, file and serve a Notice of Proposed Relocation upon the other party, together with a Counter-affidavit. The Counter-affidavit provides the other party with the opportunity to object to the Proposed Relocation. 

If the non-relocating party does not object within thirty days of receipt of the initial Notice of Proposed Relocation, then the relocating parent files a Petition to Confirm Relocation with the Court and the relocation is approved.

What If My Child’s Father or Mother Objects to the Relocation?

Can a father stop a mother, or visa versa, from moving with their child in PA? 

Perhaps. It depends upon whether the relocation significantly impairs the other party’s custodial  rights, and if there is no way to ameliorate that impairment.

When presented with a Notice of Proposed Relocation, the other parent can either agree, object, or commence mediation or invoke the collaborative process to settle the disagreement, with the agreement of the other party, outside of the court process.

A Parent May Object to Child Relocation

If an objection is filed, then the Court will schedule the matter for appearance(s) before the Court and the matter will be litigated.

A Parent May Allow the Child Relocation

A party may agree with the Relocation and an agreement may be drafted and signed; or

The Parents May Mediate or Engage in the Collaborative Process to Resolve Child Relocation Issues

The parties can decide to participate in Mediation or a Collaborative process to address the issues outside of Court and arrive at an understanding.

Can I Move With My Child Without Permission in PA?

What if I just leave and I don’t follow this process

The other parent will likely file an Emergency Custody Petition with the Court and endeavor to obtain a Court Order that the child be returned to the PA county where the child previously resided.

In other words, if you intend to move with your child in PA or from PA, consult with an experienced child relocation and child custody attorney who can help you make sure it is done correctly and you get the outcome you want. Relocation is a very nuanced and technical process. It is best to engage a family lawyer who has considerable experience in relocation.

In PA, How Far Can a Parent Move With Joint Custody?

How many miles can a custodial parent move in Pennsylvania?

This question is answered by the interpretation of the words “substantial impairment.” How is “substantial impairment” defined, from the legal definition of Child Relocation in PA?

There is no exact definition. Just know that if there is a custody order and the other parent has a set schedule which will become impractical or impossible due to your move, you need Court permission. Even if there is no Court order, if the move impairs the other parent’s rights to reasonable contact with the child, you need a Relocation Order.

If you don’t get a Relocation Order, you risk the Court ordering the child reside with the other parent. 

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Child Relocation Process in PA?

That depends in which county the matter will be heard. In Philadelphia County, for example, the process can take between six months and a year, and maybe more. There is no “emergency” relocation at the present time.

It is important that you contact a child custody lawyer who practices regularly in the Pennsylvania  county in which you live. Our child relocation attorneys practice in Philadelphia County and the surrounding counties.

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Mediated Child Relocation Process in PA?  

It may take as little as several weeks or it may take months. It depends upon the skills of  the mediator and the willingness of the parties to come to an agreement.

Once the parties do arrive at a negotiated agreement and sign a stipulation, this is filed with the Court and the matter is resolved. That’s the beauty of mediation or the collaborative process in PA, if you and the other parent can agree to resolve your differences these ways – it can be resolved as quickly as you can agree on a plan.

What are the Ten Factors the Court Considers in a Child Relocation Case in PA?

There are specific factors the Court must consider to determine whether to permit a child relocation. These factors are considered along with the sixteen custody factors.  A recent PA case captioned E.D. v. M.P. established ten factors a family law judge must consider when the custodial parent wishes to relocate:

  1. The nature, quality, and extent of involvement of the child with each parent and other people who are significant in the child’s life, such as siblings and other extended family;
  2. The age, developmental stage, and any special needs of the child and the likely impact relocating will have the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development;
  3. The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the child and non-relocating parent in terms of both logistics and finances;
  4. The child’s preference, depending on the child’s age and maturity;
  5. Whether either parent has a pattern of conduct that harms the relationship between the child and other parent;
  6. Whether relocation will improve the quality of life for the relocating parent, inclusive of  financial, educational, and emotional benefit;
  7. Whether relocation will improve the child’s quality of life, inclusive of  financial, educational, and emotional benefit;
  8. The reasons and motivations of each parent in terms of why the relocation should be permitted or denied;
  9. Whether there is past or present abuse;
  10. Any other factor affecting the best interests of the child.

Child relocation is a thorny issue in Pennsylvania. It is best to err on the side of caution when deciding whether your intended move presents a legal problem for you and your child. Come in and talk with us before you move, or if the other parent informs you they are moving with your child. We have over forty years of experience in Child Relocation issues in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties and we can be of help to you.

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