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Child custody and factors considered with parental relocation

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2022 | Child Custody

For Pennsylvania parents who have gone through a child custody case and have a parenting plan, it is important to remember that the circumstances might change as time passes. For example, if the custodial parent wants to relocate with the child to a distance that would “significantly impact the noncustodial parent’s custodial rights,” it could complicate matters for both sides. In some cases, the noncustodial parent will object to the relocation. This could be due to the new living arrangements making it more difficult to adhere to the current parenting plan, concerns about safety and more. The court will consider approving a relocation if it serves the child’s best interests. Still, it is imperative to be aware of the relocation factors based on state law. Relocation requires the court to consider twenty-six (26) factors and is decided on an expedited basis.

How the court weighs factors in a proposed relocation

The goal of any child custody and parenting plan is to ensure that the child is properly cared for and has a relationship with both parents. Relocation can present a challenge to that. The court will look at, among the other twenty-six (26) factors, the child’s relationship with both parents, siblings, extended relatives and others who take part in their life before approving or denying a relocation.

If there was a parenting plan that was constructed with the shorter distance in mind, that might need to be changed. The court will see what is feasible in maintaining a relationship, costs and other circumstances. Children who are of sufficient age and maturity can speak about their preferences. In the context of best interests, the child’s quality of life must be assessed. If it will be improved, there is a better chance that the court will approve of the relocation request. The reason or reasons for the relocation are fundamental. If it is for a new job, to attend school or to be near blood relatives, this can be important.

Both parents should understand the nuance of an attempted relocation

Great upheaval can result if there is a relocation. This can be complicated and a litany of child custody issues can arise from it. Simply because a parent wants to relocate does not automatically mean there will be discord. Some noncustodial parents object or have questions about the relocation and want to be protected while seeing their child as much as possible. The custodial parent might have justifications for the move. Knowing the law and how to address a relocation can be crucial and experienced guidance can be helpful.

Pennsylvania Bar Association

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