Montgomery County Child Custody Relocation Attorney
Primarily for employment reasons, most people relocate about eleven times during their adult lifetimes. Post-divorce job changes often necessitate child support changes. Perhaps more significantly, relocation affects parenting time divisions. Most families observe a delicate pick-up and drop-off arrangement. Any residential change could upset this balance.
The compassionate Montgomery County child custody relocation attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand understand the effect that a relocation has on parents, and more importantly, the effect it has on children. Things are always uncertain during a move, so we work to make the emotional transition as seamless as possible for relocating parents and their children. At the same time, we also assertively stand up for the legal and financial rights of non-relocating parents.
Moving vs. Relocating
In this context, these two words are not synonymous. There is a difference between moving and relocating for child custody purposes. In Pennsylvania, this difference is rather subjective. The law in the Keystone State defines parental relocation as “change in the residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of the non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights.”
Initially, let’s consider the “significant impairment” requirement. Assume Mother wants to move with the children to an adjacent community. That move would probably cut into Father’s parenting time, especially if the parenting time plan calls for weekday visitation. But that impairment would probably not be terribly significant. The situation could be different, however, if Mother plans to move the children to an adjacent county.
Furthermore, the relocation must affect custodial rights. This assumes that the non-relocating party has custodial rights to begin with. If our hypothetical Father only had limited visitation rights, perhaps at a supervised location, Father might not have standing to challenge Mother’s proposed relocation.
As a rule of thumb, fifty miles is the dividing line between moving and relocating. Courts usually always approve short-distance moves, even if the other parent objects. On the other hand, courts almost always scrutinize other moves, unless both parties agree.
Issues to Consider
The judge will approve the relocation if it is in the best interests of the children. Despite this requirement, many relocating parties focus on the best interests of the parents. It is almost always in the best interest of the parent to be closer to work or closer to family. But these things are not necessarily in the child’s best interests.
So, relocating parents must re-cast their positions. A shorter work commute could mean more time at home with the children or proximity to family could mean a stronger support network. Likewise, non-relocating parents must also focus on the child’s best interests. Fighting the move itself is often a losing proposition.
Frequently, opposition centers on the consistency for the children. Most judges like to maintain the status quo if at all possible. If the relocating parent, who has the burden of proof, cannot conclusively show the move is in the child’s best interests, most judges will not approve the relocation, at least initially.
Count on a Savvy Attorney
The ability to relocate with the children after divorce is not always a given. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. Home, virtual, and after-hours visits are available.