What Happens When One Parent Wants To Move?

When one parent desires to relocate — whether to another part of the state, outside of Pennsylvania, or outside the U.S. — the custody rights of the other parent must be considered and this must be handled in court. Removing a child from the state without going back to family court for a modification of a custody order can result in contempt charges against the parent for violation of a court order.

If you have been told that your child's other parent wants to relocate your child to another part of the state or country, you have the right to go to court to prevent the child's removal from the state.

To seek court approval to relocate for work or family reasons, or to fight the relocation of your child, speak with a Pennsylvania child move-away attorney at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC. Call 717-827-4074.

Relocation And Pennsylvania's New Child Custody Law

Prior to January 2011, family law statutes in Pennsylvania did not specifically define or address the issue of relocation. Instead, procedure and law were derived from the findings in a particular case, that of Gruber v. Gruber.

The new law defines relocation as "a change in a residence of the child, which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights." It also states that no relocation can occur unless a) every other person with custody rights consents to the move, or b) a family court judge approves the proposed relocation.

Advance notice: The parent who desires to move with the child must notify all parties with a custody interest, which may include grandparents. The other parties then have 30 days to object to the relocation by filing a counter-affidavit. Failure to properly notify the other parent or parties before a move will have a negative effect on the way the court views the parent seeking to move.

A court can allow relocation prior to a hearing in certain situations. While the new law does not specifically mention military deployment, other laws do specify this as one type of exception.

How Are Relocation Conflicts Resolved?

The factors to be considered by the court under the new law are as follows:

  • The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child's relationships with the party proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child's life
  • The age, development, needs of the child and the likely impact relocation will have on the child's physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating party and child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties
  • The child's preference
  • Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of one party to thwart the relationship with the child and the other party
  • Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life of the relocating party, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity
  • Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life of the child
  • The reasons and motivations of each party in seeking or opposing relocation, and
  • The present and past 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

The Harrisburg child custody relocation lawyers at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, work with families throughout Central Pennsylvania to help them protect their important relationships. We have decades of experience handling both simple and complex child custody cases.

Learn Your Rights As A Parent

Contact the Harrisburg law firm of Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC. We accept credit cards. We offer daytime, evening and weekend appointments. Call 717-827-4074. When you need a Harrisburg child custody relocation attorney we have offices in Harrisburg, serving all communities in Dauphin County, Cumberland County, York County, Northumberland County and Franklin County.