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How is child custody and parenting time impacted by relocation?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2023 | Child Custody

It is not unusual for Pennsylvania parents who have been granted custody of a child to want to move away to another part of Pennsylvania or a different state entirely. While this might be viewed as being in the best interests of the custodial parent and the child, that does not mean the noncustodial parent will automatically sign off on the decision without protest.

If a person has family in a different town or state and they want to be near them for financial reasons and moral support, this could be a reasonable justification for the move. They might have a job offer or decide to go to receive schooling to improve their station in life. State law specifically addresses a relocation and knowing how to pursue or prevent such a move is imperative.

What should I know about an attempted parental relocation?

People might think they can simply move with the child at their discretion, but the law says differently. Anyone with custody rights can object to the move and the relocation cannot take place until they approve it or the court permits the move.

Everyone who has custody rights must be informed of the planned move. If you are the parent hoping to move, there are time limits and procedures that must be met to ensure the process is followed, creating the best chance at a relocation. Similarly, there are time limits that must be met to properly object to the other parent’s relocation.

If a parent objects, here will typically be a hearing to listen to both sides. Then the court will analyze a number of factors in the custody law before making its decision as to whether to permit the move.

Among the factors that the court will consider when deciding to approve or deny the requested relocation are the relationship the child has with the relocating party and others in the family; the child’s age and level of development and how realistic it is for the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent to maintain and improve a relationship.

The court will also consider the child’s feelings about the move if they are old enough and mature enough to give an opinion; how parental behavior is impacting the decision to move; why the move is being made and if there was past abuse or other problems that made the move necessary.

Do not discount the importance of local, experienced legal help

The end of a relationship can be contentious, but even couples that were relatively amicable can turn difficult if there is an attempted relocation. Having help from people who understand the plight of those who are trying to adapt to the new normal after a the end of a relationship or facing the possibility of their child being far away can be a vital part of trying to reach a reasonable solution.

In some cases, there can be a negotiation. Perhaps the custodial parent will be flexible with parenting time and the schedule can be adapted to serve the new situation better and work well for everyone. In others, it is harder to come to a consensus and more aggressive legal assistance is needed. No matter what, people should be protected and informed of their rights and responsibilities.

Custody relocation cases can be complicated. Missing a filing deadline or not properly notifying the other parent can have devastating impact on a custody schedule or situation. It is important to have legal guidance through this process to make sure that everything is done properly and at the right time. Having help that is established in Lancaster County, knows the area and the local legal process can make a major difference in feeling comfortable and shielded from the start of the case. Calling for child custody and family law guidance is a wise start to reach a positive result and serve the child’s interests while achieving the desired goal.