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CHILD CUSTODY RELOCATION LAWS IN PENNSYLVANIA

Our Lancaster/York PA Child Custody Attorney, Justin C. Gearty Jr., Esquire, recently handled a case where his client was permitted to leave the state with the minor child. Attorney Gearty represent the mother in this case.

In this case, the mother had lived in the York PA area with the father of the child. She had no other family or friends in the area and was originally from up-state New York. The relationship between her and the father eventually fell apart leaving her nowhere to go in the York area. She ended up leaving the home and moving back to New York, which was about a seven hour drive from York PA. Shortly after she left, the father filed a child custody action in the York County Court of Common Pleas. An initial custody conciliation conference was scheduled and the mother showed up without an attorney. Following this conference, the court entered an order giving the parties shared physical and legal custody of the child. This order resulted in the child being with the father for two weeks and then with the mother for two weeks (the child was not of school age yet). The mother then retained our Child Custody Lawyer, Justin C. Gearty Jr., Esquire. Attorney Gearty appeared on her behalf at the pre-trial conference. Following the pre-trial conference we prepared a Gruber Memo, which is a case that deals with custody relocation issues. Attorney Gearty then began preparing the case for trial and represented the mother at trial. After the court heard all of the evidence, the court awarded the mother majority physical custody and the court approved her relocation. Under this Order, the mother would have the child for the school year with short periods of visitation with the father and the father had summer break minus the mother’s periods of vacation time.

Relocation in child custody cases can become complicated. The PA Child Custody Act has strict requirements that must be followed. The first requirement is that the parent that plans to relocate must send notice to the non-relocating parent. The Child Custody Act outlines the items that must be included in this notice, which includes but is not limited to: the address of the new residence, the new school district, the new phone number, the reason for the move, and a notice to the non-relocating parent that if the non-relocating parent doesn’t respond, the court will approve the relocation. This notice must be sent via certified mail and must be sent at least 60 days prior to the proposed move. Along with the notice, a counter-affidavit must be provided to the non-relocating parent. If the other parent does not agree to the proposed relocation, he/she must then filed the counter-affidavit with the court. Once the counter-affidavit is filed with the court, an expedited hearing will be scheduled where the court will determine whether or not to approve the relocation.

The PA Child Custody Act outlines multiple factors that the court must consider when deciding whether or not to approve the proposed relocation. As with most child custody matters, the controlling issue is: what is in the best interest of the child. With that being the controlling interest, the court will consider how the proposed location will enhance the child’s life. In addition to looking at how the relocation will benefit the child, the court will also look at the non-relocating parent’s relationship with the child and the court need to consider whether alternative visitation arrangements can be made if the relocation was approved.

If you are considering a relocation, contact us today for a free consultation.