Pennsylvania Laws on Relocating with Children

Relocating with children and shared custody

After divorce, it is natural to start thinking about a new beginning.  Packing up and moving back to family, friends, or better job opportunities can present a new and exciting time after a period of difficulty.  Conversely, battling a move can be daunting.  There are certain requirements that must be addressed if you have children and are looking to make this move.  Before relocating with children, speak with an experienced Bucks County divorce attorney to ensure all requirements are addressed.  

What are the laws on child custody in Pennsylvania?

In 2011, child custody law in Pennsylvania was amended to manage the increasing prevalence of situations involving split custody.  Relocating with children has become a common source of difficulty.  To be able to relocate with your children, the Pennsylvania law for relocating with children allows so, if:  (1) you have custody rights in the first place, (2) each party with custodial rights actually agrees to the proposed relocation, and/or (3) the court grants approval to the request.

How do I start the process of relocating with children?

Because your minor children are involved, it is of great importance that you seek an experienced Bucks County divorce attorney to walk you through the process with accuracy.  Once you have obtained an attorney, he or she can begin the process and ensure it is handled legally.

First, every individual with a custody right must be informed of the proposed relocation.  To notify, a written notice is sent to each of those parties via certified mail.  The notice must be given 60 days ahead of the move or relocation.  There are some exceptions to this; however, your attorney can best advise based upon the circumstances.

The notice must include information that will inform the other parties as to why and how this relocation is set to occur.  For example, the notice will include information on the new residence, the new school district, a proposed custody order incorporating the new proposed residence, information on other household members, anticipated date of relocation and of course, why the move is desired.

What if I do not want my children to relocate with the other parent?

For parents who do not want to agree to the relocation, you have the right to object and file a counter affidavit.  Within 30 days of receiving a notice (as described above), you may file the affidavit with the proper court.  If this is done within the time frame, a hearing is held.  At this time, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced divorce and custody attorney who can help in preventing a move.  Experience and knowledge of the requirements are of extreme importance – it is not advisable to cut corners when a dramatic relocation is proposed.

 How does the court decide whether or not to grant relocation?

Pennsylvania custody laws on relocation include factors that must be considered in order allow relocation.  Bearing in mind that Pennsylvania always considers the best interests of the child, the proposed relocation will be viewed via the following which are described in greater detail within the statute under 5337 :

  1. The relationship with the parent proposing the move;
  2. The age and developmental needs of the child;
  3. Whether or not/how easy it will be to maintain a relationship between the parties through custody arrangements;
  4. How the relocation will enhance quality of life for the party and child subject to relocation;
  5. Reasons and motivation for parent seeking to move and parent objecting;
  6. Any other factors that relate to the best interest of the child.

Before making any moves or upon receipt of a notice, contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C.  Call our office at (215) 942-2100 or submit an inquiry form to schedule a constulation today.