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Child custody and parental relocation

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Divorce Law

Child custody and parenting time can be contentious issues long after a divorce has been finalized. For Lancaster parents, one of the most difficult issues in child custody concerns a custodial parent who wants to relocate with the child.

There are laws regarding relocation and parents need to know their rights.

Key factors with a proposed parental relocation

Pennsylvania law requires that anyone with custody rights to the child approves the relocation. All must be informed by the party who is relocating that the move is being planned. All vital information regarding the move – when it will take place, where they are relocating to, how to contact them – must be provided.

Those who oppose the relocation have the right to lodge an objection. As part of that, they can ask the court for an order to stop the move on a temporary or permanent basis. As part of a relocation, custody and parenting time orders will need to be updated. The non-relocating parent can also object to the modification.

The court will hear each side regarding the relocation. The relocating parent must show why the move is being made. For example, they might have family in another area or be moving for a new job. The court will consider the parents’ relationship; the child’s relationship with both parents; how old the child is and where they are developmentally; the distance and how feasible it is to maintain a relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent; if the child has a preference and the maturity to express it; relevant behaviors; and how the move will impact everyone involved.

Parents need to prepare for a potential relocation with a child

As with any child-related matter in a family law case, the primary issue is the child’s best interests. In some cases, the parents are flexible and will accept a relocation, working out lingering challenges to keep the child in contact with the non-relocating parent. In others, it is acrimonious with the sides in dispute over the proposed move. Both parents must be ready to state their case to try and reach a positive outcome not just for them, but for the child as well.