Montgomery County Parental Relocation Approval Attorney
Parents and children relocate so frequently that, especially if the move was a local one, many parents rely on informal side-agreements regarding child custody provisions like pickup and drop-off. These side agreements, even if they are written, are not enforceable in a Pennsylvania court. So, if one parent unilaterally decides to go back to the way it was, the other parent has absolutely no recourse.
The compassionate Montgomery County parental relocation approval attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand understand what these parents go through. They want to avoid conflict if possible, yet they still want to preserve their legal rights. So, we offer a variety of solutions in this area. Frequently, especially after a lawyer gets involved, it is possible to accomplish both these goals.
For child custody purposes, a relocation is “a change in a residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights.” So, not all moves are relocations.
Significant impairment is not the same thing as a substantial inconvenience. Unless the new address would reduce parenting time instead of increasing commuting time, and unless that cut would be rather drastic, the move is not a “relocation” in this context.
Furthermore, if the non-relocating parent had limited or no contact with the children, custodial rights are not an issue. Frequently, if a parent has documented substance abuse or other issues, courts only allow limited visitation. If that’s the case, the non-relocating parent must first ask the court to remove these disabilities before the parent has standing to challenge the relocation.
Judges may only approve relocations if they are in the best interests of the children. Some factors to consider include:
- Child’s Preference: Pennsylvania law gives judges a great deal of discretion in this area. Depending on the facts of the case, a judge could consider a 10-year-old’s request and disregard a 17-year-old’s request.
- Parental Preference: Frequently, parents express their preferences indirectly. If a parent showed little interest in piano recitals and soccer games during the marriage, that leopard is unlikely to change its spots.
- Consistency for the Children: This factor usually weighs against relocation. Judges like consistency. If the present living arrangement is working, even if it is not perfect, most judges hesitate to upset it.
- Child’s Relationship with Steps: Many relocations involve remarriage. If the child does not get along well with the stepparent or new stepsiblings, it might be possible to block the move.
Some relocating parties mistakenly focus on the best interests of the parents as opposed to the best interests of the children. The motion will probably fail unless it is presented in the proper way and concentrates on the children. For example, the new neighborhood might be safer or have a better school.
Pre-filing mediation is usually a good idea in these cases. If the parties submit an agreed motion, most judges sign them without requiring hearings. That order could involve some compromises. For example, the non-relocating parent could approve the move if the relocating parent agrees to pay all visitation-related travel expenses.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
Relocating and non-relocating parents have legal rights when it comes to move-away modifications. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We routinely handle matters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.