There are many reasons you might want to move out of state – or even country – with your child. Perhaps you’re considering a job opportunity, want to be closer to family or want to move in with a significant other.
Whatever your reason is, you’re probably wondering how relocation will work with your child custody agreement. In Pennsylvania, you must propose relocation to anyone else who has custody rights to your child. State law defines relocation as any move that significantly impairs the non-relocating party’s ability to exercise their custodial rights.
You have to send this proposal notice by certified mail, and generally 60 days before the proposed move. Given the complexities of a relocation, it would benefit you to have a child custody attorney help with this, as well as next steps. The notification needs to have the following information:
- Your intended new address
- The names and ages of everyone who will live there
- The name of the new school district and school
- The proposed relocation date
- The reasons for the relocation
- A proposed revised custody schedule
If your child’s other parent rejects the move, you may have to settle the relocation matter in court.
The main considerations
In Pennsylvania, the main considerations of the court are whether the move will impact the life of the minor child in a positive way, and whether your motives for relocating are good.
In addition to a consideration of the sixteen (16) Best Interest factors, a judge will also consider ten (10) factors as they relate to relocation when determining this, for example:
- How involved you are in your child’s life
- How the move may impact your child based on their age, developmental stage and needs
- Whether the relationship with the non-relocating parent will be preserved
- Your reason for relocating
- Any history of abuse
- Whether the move will generally improve your child’s life financially, emotionally and educationally
Ultimately, the decision will be based on what is in the best interest for your child.
Moving can be a positive experience for you and your child. But Pennsylvania law surrounding relocation with a child can be complicated. It can help to have a child custody lawyer by your side who can advocate for you.
Elizabeth Beroes holds a certificate in the legal specialties of co-parent coordinator and mediator. Elizabeth and Julie Beroes teach Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses to other attorneys who want to benefit from their knowledge in the field of Relocation.