Child Custody – Relocating to Another State

iStock_000021219828SmallLast year, Pennsylvania child custody laws changed significantly and have affected how child custody disputes are being determined.  One challenge that parents may now face is what to do when one of them needs or wants to relocate to another state and wants to take their children with them.

In Pennsylvania, this new custody law has a very strict relocation provision that the parent who wants to move must now, in writing, give advance notice to the parent who’s not moving and tell them, “I plan to move,” and where they plan to move to, when they plan to move and where the child will be attending school if they do move. There’s a very specific provision as to the information you must give. Then, the parent who is not moving has the choice of saying, “I’m okay with that move” or saying, “No, I’m not okay with that move.”

If the parent who’s not relocating is against the move s/he then has to provide, in writing, that s/he does not agree to the relocation. Then the parent who wants to relocate must file an action with the court asking permission to allow them to move. If they move without that permission, the courts can easily mandate — will not hesitate to do so– that the child come back to Pennsylvania or come back to the home county.  The court can’t mandate that the parent come back but it can mandate that the child come back.

Years ago, we would always ask a client, “Well, do you think the other side’s going to object? And how much are they going to object?” and then caution them accordingly. Today, however, in Pennsylvania a parent cannot move unless the other parent agrees or the court gives him or her permission to go.