Creating an equitable child custody arrangement is a difficult or straightforward process. A custody arrangement can sometimes be achieved relatively quickly, or it can raise strong feelings and hostility between all parties. No matter which way your custody negotiations went, introducing the idea of relocation into the mix can complicate matters greatly. Fortunately, the state of Pennsylvania has created clear laws and guidelines for when a parent with custody of a child wishes to relocate in a way that has an impact on the custodial rights of the other. If you are a custodial parent who is considering a move or have been notified by the other party that they wish to relocate, immediately seeking legal assistance from the Philadelphia law office of Smith & Horwitz will ensure that your rights are protected and that all decisions are made with the best interest of your child in mind.
There are a number of different types of relocation. A parent may simply decide to relocate to another neighborhood within the same school district, or in some other way that does not significantly affect the ability of the non-relocating party to have access to the child. But a custodial parent could decide to make a move within the same town that changes a child’s school district or could choose to move across the country. Pennsylvania law has established that for the purposes of child custody, a relocation is a change in the child’s residence that would affect the non-relocating parent’s ability to exercise their custodial rights, regardless of distance.
A custodial parent can ask the court for permission to relocate with the child and is in fact required to notify all parties with custody rights to the child of their intention to do so, in writing and by certified mail with return receipt requested. This notification must be given a minimum of sixty days before the intended move and must provide the new intended address, information on other individuals who will be living in the new residence, a home phone number for the new residence, and information on the new school district and school. The custodial parent must also provide reasons for the move, the date of the move, a proposal for modification of the existing custody schedule, and all other appropriate information. Included in the mailing they must also provide a counter-affidavit with which the non-relocating parent can object to the proposed relocation or modified custody schedule, as well as notice that any objections must be lodged within thirty days of receiving the relocation notice.
It is essential that a relocating custodial parent follows this procedure exactly, as the court takes a dim view of those who do not provide adequate and required notice and may use noncompliance as a consideration against the relocation or custody modification. Relocation is not permitted unless all other parties with custodial rights agree to the relocation or the court approves of it.
If you are a parent who has received a relocation notification and wishes to object to the proposal or a custodial parent who plans on relocating, it is essential that you have a strong legal advocate working on your behalf and ensuring that all procedures are followed correctly. Contact the family law practice of Smith & Horwitz today for help with this important issue.