Post-Divorce Relocation Requirements in Pennsylvania

Early this year, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed new child custody laws regarding relocation of minor children. The new rules require extra steps that must be taken by the parent wishing to relocate.

Upon divorce or separation, parents of minor children must establish custody for their children: determinations regarding where the children will live - physical custody - and who will make decisions on behalf of the children - legal custody. Invariably, one or both parents will want to relocate at some point while the children are minors. Whether for a new job opportunity or to simply establish some distance between the ex-spouses, laws determine if and when a move is allowed.

Pennsylvania law presumes that the current custody arrangement is what is best for the child or children. When a custodial parent wishes to relocate, issues - such as the following - are taken into consideration:

  • Potential advantages of the relocation
  • Likelihood of quality of life improvement for the parent and children
  • Integrity of motive for the move, or the prevention thereof
  • Viability of alternative visitation arrangements for non-custodial parent

Relocation Law Changes

The new custody laws have created additional steps that a custodial parent must take prior to relocating with the children. When the move will interfere with the other parent's custodial rights, each person with custodial rights must receive written notification of the request to move. The notice must include detailed information regarding the proposed relocation and provide paperwork the recipient can use to object to the move.

If none having custodial rights object to the move, the relocating parent must still obtain court approval. The judge may decide a hearing is still necessary and, with or without benefit of a hearing, will consider issues relating to the best interests of the child before ruling on a relocation.

Source: Centre Daily Times, "Pennsylvania, Child Custody, and Relocation: What to Know Before You Move," Laura Robbins and Jennifer Braum, August 12, 2012.

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