What Are Pennsylvania’s Child Custody Relocation Laws?
Child custody refers to legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody refers to the actual physical possession of a child. In Pennsylvania, parents can develop their own custody agreement with the help of family law mediation or the court can determine it. In many cases, both parties have physical custody rights to the child. Also, Pennsylvania law makes it possible for grandparents or great-grandparents to gain partial physical custody rights.
When someone wants to relocate with the child, it can be stressful for everyone involved in the child’s life. In Pennsylvania, there are two ways to legally relocate. Either every individual who has custody rights to the child must consent to the proposed relocation or the court must grant the relocation.
Child Custody Relocation Letter
The relocating individual must send a reasonable, formal notification to every individual who has custody rights to the child about the proposed relocation. The relocating individual should give the other parties a 60-day notice. However, if there is proof that the relocation is a time-sensitive situation, the individual should send a notification within 10 days of knowing about the relocation.
Within the proposed relocation notification, the individual should provide specific information about the proposed relocation:
- Relocation date
- Reason for proposed relocation
- Home address, mailing address and home phone number of new residence
- Names and ages of each individual who may live in the residence
- Child’s school district and school name
- Proposal of revised custody schedule
If every party involved provides formal consent to the proposed relocation, then the individual may move forward with his or her relocation. However, if one or more non-relocating parties object, they have a legal right to file a formal objection with the court and ask for a temporary or permanent court order to prevent relocation.
How a Court Decides Custody Relocation
In child custody matters, the court should always put the child’s best interests and safety first. When granting or denying a proposed relocation, the court will weigh many factors about the child’s life. In addition to taking the child’s wishes into account, the court should weigh these factors:
The child’s family dynamic. The court should determine how relocation could affect the child’s current family relationships. This includes evaluating the feasibility of modified custody arrangements for the non-relocating parties.
The child’s well-being. The court should determine how relocation could affect the child’s mental, physical and emotional health and development.
The child’s opportunity. The court should evaluate whether the relocation could provide beneficial financial, emotional and educational opportunities for the child. The court should also evaluate potential benefits to the relocating individual.
Can I Move Out-Of-State With My Child Without Consent?
Our child custody attorneys do not recommend custody relocation without notifying the proper parties and authorities. Failure to follow Pennsylvania’s relocation statute can result in serious consequences. If the relocation has already occurred, the court may issue an order to return the child to the non-relocating individual. The court could also make child custody modifications, order you to pay fines to the affected parties and impose other court sanctions.
Need a Pennsylvania Child Custody Lawyer?
If you have questions about custody relocation in Pennsylvania, we recommend that you speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your situation. At Kardos, Rickles & Hand, our Newtown child custody lawyers can help you understand your rights as a relocating party or non-relocating party. We are dedicated to helping our clients through these difficult times. Call us today at 215-968-6602 or fill out our online form.