Philadelphia Custody Relocations Lawyer
Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery & Philadelphia County
A judge in a Pennsylvania divorce can award custody in seven different ways. Once a custody order is in place, the parents will have a custody and visitation plan that dictates when the children will be with each parent throughout the year. What happens if the custodial parent wants to move a significant distance away in-state? What if the move is out of state or out of the country? If the move qualifies as a “relocation” under Pennsylvania law, a parent cannot move away with the kids without the consent of the other parent or court approval. Whether you are trying to get the permission of your child’s co-parent or litigating in court, our Philadelphia custody relocations lawyer can help. If you are the noncustodial parent objecting to the move or wanting to make sure you can still see your kids, we can help with that too. Learn more about custody relocations below and contact the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane for practical advice and strong representation in a Philadelphia divorce, child custody dispute, or post-divorce parental relocation.
How are Custody Relocations in Pennsylvania Handled?
Pennsylvania child custody 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.” Based on this definition, courts in relocation cases look at the effect a move might have on the ability of the noncustodial parent to co-parent, as well as have access to custody and visitation. For example, can the noncustodial parent continue to accompany the child to doctor appointments, attend school functions, meet with teachers, participate in the child’s extracurricular activities, etc.?
If the move is considered a relocation, then the custodial parent cannot move without first providing formal notice to the other parent of the intended move. This notice must be given within 60 days of the proposed move in most cases. If the parent could not have known of the move in time to give a 60-day notice and it’s not reasonably possible to delay the move, then the parent can give notice within ten days of learning about the move. An example of this situation would be an emergency job transfer that was sprung on the parent at the last minute.
The required notice is more than just a summary statement and date of the move. It must include the new address and phone number, the names of other people who will live at the new address, the name of the school and school district, and a proposed revised custody schedule. The notice must also include a counter-affidavit in case the noncustodial parent wishes to object to the move and a warning that they have 30 days to file an objection. As you can see, the moving parent must put in a lot of work on the front end if wishing to relocate. Our Philadelphia family law office can help prepare a proper notice.
If the other parent objects within 30 days of the notice, the court will hold a formal hearing, complete with legal arguments, witness testimony and other relevant evidence. The burden is on the moving parent to show that the move is for a good reason and that it not only benefits the parent but also substantially benefits the kids as well. The parent must also have a plan for maintaining contact between the children and the nonmoving parent.
What happens if I move without giving notice?
You can move without notice if the move is not a relocation under the law. In those situations, you do not need the other parent’s permission to move. An example would be an in-town move that does not significantly impair the nonmoving parent’s exercise of custodial rights. If you are in doubt whether notice is required, the prudent step would be to give notice. Giving notice won’t hurt your right to move if the move is later determined not to be a relocation. If you relocate without following the proper procedures, you could lose your status as the custodial parent. If you take the kids with you without providing the required notice, you could even be charged with kidnapping and face serious penalties. It’s best before any significant move to run your concerns by a knowledgeable and experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney.
Contact Attorney Lauren H. Kane for Help with a Philadelphia Custody Relocation
If you are a custodial parent in Philadelphia contemplating a move with the kids, or a noncustodial parent concerned about the other parent’s relocation, call the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane to learn about your rights, options and how to proceed.