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Relocation and child custody

| Jul 21, 2021 | Child Custody |

In some Pennsylvania child custody cases, one parent will want to relocate with the child after the child custody orders have been issued. Parents might have a number of reasons for wanting to move, including to take a new job, pursue a new relationship, move closer to family members or simply have a change of scenery. However, a parent cannot simply choose to relocate with a child; they must go through the court process when the move will be to a distant city or another state.

Motion to relocate with a child

Before a parent can relocate with a child, he or she must first give the child’s other parent notice of his or her intent in writing well in advance and file a motion to relocate with the child with the court that issued the child custody order. The other parent can agree to the move or object to it. If the other parent objects, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether to grant or deny the request. If the court denies the request to relocate with the child, the parent can still move but will not be able to take the child with him or her.

When will a court approve or deny a motion to relocate?

To determine whether to approve a relocation request following a child custody order, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests instead of the parent’s best interests. The court will consider the child’s adjustment to his or her current home, school and community and how the child might be affected by having less contact with his or her other parent.

The reason for the move will also be important. For example, if a parent wants to move to a new city to take a job that will help him or her better support his or her child, the court will be likelier to grant the motion than if the parent wants to move to pursue a new relationship or to enjoy a change of scenery.

If a motion to relocate is granted, the moving parent will still need to uphold the child custody and visitation orders. If the destination is too distant to continue with the current plan, the parent might also need to file a motion to modify custody and visitation to reflect the changes.