West Chester Lawyer Resolves Disputes Over Child Relocation
What happens if the custodial parent wants to move away with the child?
When a custodial parent wants to relocate to pursue a new job, care for an ailing family member or any other reason, the noncustodial parent’s visitation privileges are likely to be affected. Catherine H. Voit advises parents seeking to relocate as well as parents challenging relocation requests. In either situation, she helps you find a solution that protects your interests and the best interests of your child.
Relocation procedures under Pennsylvania law
Out-of-state relocations are common in Chester County since we are near the borders of other states. A parent cannot move outside the county with a child, however, unless the other parent consents or the court approves the relocation or a modification of visitation rights. The parent seeking to relocate must start the process by notifying the other parent. Under Pennsylvania’s child custody laws, the notice should include the following information:
- The address of the intended new residence
- The mailing address, if not the same as the address of the intended new residence
- Names and ages of the individuals at the new residence, including those who intend to live at the new residence
- The telephone number of the intended new residence
- The name of the new school district and school
- The date of the proposed relocation
- The reasons for the proposed relocation
- A proposal for a revised custody schedule
- A form that can be used to object to the proposed relocation
- A warning that any objection to the proposed relocation must be filed within 30 days after receipt of the notice
Upon receiving notice, the other parent can file an objection to the proposed relocation. The court will then schedule a hearing and may issue a temporary order to prevent a relocation before the hearing. If the other parent agrees to the relocation or fails to object by the deadline, the court can modify the existing custody order by approving the proposal for a revised custody schedule submitted by the relocating parent.
Factors in deciding contested relocation petitions
If the noncustodial parent contests the relocation, the parent who wishes to move must prove that the relocation will serve the best interest of the child. In determining whether to allow a relocation, the court considers the following factors:
- The nature, quality and duration of the child’s relationship with each parent, any siblings and other significant people in the child’s life
- The child’s age, developmental stage, needs and the likely impact the relocation would have on the child’s physical, educational and emotional development
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties
- The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child
- Whether there is an established pattern of conduct by either party to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party
- Whether the relocation would enhance the general quality of life for the child
- Whether the relocation would enhance the general quality of life for the party seeking the relocation
- Each party’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation
- Any abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household and whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party
If the court consents to the relocation, it will modify the existing custody order or set forth the terms and conditions of custody in a new order.
Discuss your relocation case with a West Chester child custody attorney
A relocation must serve the best interests of the child, but there are many other factors in the mix. Catherine H. Voit provides knowledgeable legal guidance that allows parents to make informed decisions about child custody. To discuss your case, call Catherine today at 484.881.3185 or contact her online. Evening and early morning appointments are available on request.