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Custody Relocation Proceedings

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When parents move outside the jurisdiction

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Family Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

When there is a divorce and one of the parents is awarded custody based on the best interests of the children, often the parents end up living in the same general locality at first. This ensures that the noncustodial parent has easy access to the children for purposes of visitation, and also eases the burden on the children from the marital break-up by allowing them stay in the same schools, to keep the same friends, and to maintain the same general support network. However, what if the custodial parent wants to move to another city, state, or even country-is this such a substantial change of circumstances as to warrant a change of custody or other relief?

Under the new 2011 Pennsylvania Custody Statute, the courts are required to review some specific factors in making a determination to allow a primary physical custodian to relocate outside the jurisdiction.  These factors include, among others, a best interests of the child analysis, the opportunity of the non-relocating party to enjoy periods of physical custody, the motives of the parties in either requesting or objecting to relocation and the economic opportunities that will flow to the parent requesting the relocation (indirectly thereby flowing to the child).  Pennsylvania now requires that a party either obtain consent from the other party or an order of court before relocating.

If you have questions concerning a relocation, you should contact an attorney prior to the move. You may contact us at the number above or online. You may contact Attorney Jeffrey Engle directly at [email protected].  

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