Settling child custody disputes is often a delicate and contentious process for parents in Pennsylvania, and these issues may flare up once again if the child's primary care provider decides to relocate. Sometimes these issues can be settled amicably between the parents, but in other cases courts will be called upon to decide matters. When a court is asked to consider a dispute between parents over the issue of child relocation, it will make its decision based upon what is considered to be in the best interests of the child.
A Pennsylvania resident who has been awarded child custody is required by law to notify all other individuals who have rights to spend time with the child of the intention to relocate at least 60 days prior to the planned departure. This notification must include pertinent information including the child's new address and the reasons for the move.
The proposed relocation must be consented to by the other parties involved and approved by the court. If there is an objection, the matter will be decided based upon the best interest principle. While this kind of dispute often arises in cases of interstate or international relocations, Pennsylvania law also allows parents or other interested parties to object to relocations within the state or even within the county if they interfere significantly with existing custody arrangements.
Few areas of family law are as emotionally charged as child custody relocation. Judges are often placed in extremely difficult positions when hearing these arguments, and their decisions sometimes lead to the ruin of a career if a move is denied or a parent being unable to see their child for months or years at a time if a relocation is granted. A family law attorney can provide guidance on the factors that courts will usually consider.
Source: The Pennsylvania General Assembly, Title 23-Relocation
Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody Relocation Laws", November 25, 2014