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Child's Relocation

Pennsylvania's custody relocation statute, 23 Pa C.S. 5337, requires the party seeking relocation to get court approval or the other parent's permission prior to relocation. A relocation is defined as any move that would "significantly impair the ability of the nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights." Case law has established that when neither parent moves but the child is moving, Section 5337 is not triggered. In D.K. v. S.P.K., 102 A.3d 467 (Pa. Super. 2014), the Father was located in Pittsburgh, PA with the children and Mother was located in North Carolina. Mother was subsequently awarded primary custody resulting in the children moving to North Carolina. This was not considered a relocation since neither parent had moved, however, the court did state that certain factors in Section 5337(h) should be considered due to the impact on the children.

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Specifically, Section 5337(h)(2), the age, developmental stage, needs of the child and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child's physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child, (h)(3) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties, and (h)(7) whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity. These factors should be considered in addition to, or alongside, the best interests factors to be considered in every custody case under Section 5328.

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