After divorce, often people want a fresh start. Maybe after your divorce, you want to take a job closer to a big city like Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. Maybe you want to move closer to your family in Allentown. But how will that impact your child custody agreement? Will your ex need to OK your relocation?
Pennsylvania child custody relocation laws
In Pennsylvania, you must have your child’s other parent or the court approve your relocation if moving will significantly impact your current child custody agreement. You don’t have to move out of state for this statue to apply. Nor does Pennsylvania law determine by mileage how far you have to move for that to significantly impact your current child custody agreement.
You must notify your child’s other parent of your relocation and custody modification request by certified mail. You must include the following information in this notice of relocation:
- The address of where you intend to live
- The names of anyone who will be living with you at that address
- Your phone number when you relocate
- The school district your new residence is in and the school your child would attend when you have custody
- The date you plan to relocate
- Why you want to relocate
- Your proposed child custody schedule modification
If your former spouse contests your move, you will need to have the court approve it. The court will evaluate:
- What your relationship with your child is like, your child’s relationship with your ex, siblings and other important people in your child’s life
- Your child’s age and developmental needs and how relocating will impact your child’s physical, emotional and educational development
- If your child wants to relocate with you and has the maturity to understand the impact of that decision
- If relocating will make it feasible for your child to maintain their relationship with the other parent, considering the logistics and financial circumstances involved
- If the relocation will significantly better your child’s educational opportunities or your financial situation
- What your motivation is for relocating
- If your child will be at more at risk or less at risk of being abused because of your relocation
Getting help with child custody modifications
Before you seek a child custody modification because of relocation, you should consult an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help you determine how your child’s life will benefit from your relocation and can represent you in a court custody hearing if necessary.
Sometimes, relocation really can benefit your child and is in both your best interests. If that’s the case for your planned move, altering your child custody agreement likely will be possible.