Can custodial parents in Pennsylvania move across state lines?

A parent who has joint or sole custody of a child may be able to move after attaining permission from the other parent or a judge.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there were 33,600 divorces and annulments in the state over the course of a single year. Children often make marital separation a little more complex. The divorced couple may have to keep in contact with each other when they have a child together. Those who do not have children are able to relocate at will, but this is not always the case for divorced parents.

With permission from courts

Before permission to relocate with the child can be granted, the person who wants to move must file documents with the courts detailing his or her desire and reason for moving.

In some cases, a person is given permission to move from a judge. However, he or she may not always be allowed to relocate with the children. Usually, a judge has to consider what is in the best interest of the child. Certain scenarios, such as the following, may help a judge decide whether to grant permission for a move:

  • The custodial parent has a valid reason for wanting to move that will improve quality of life for him or her and the kids.

· The parent proposing the move should not be moving to show a desire to keep the child from the other parent

  • The mom or dad who is not moving has an estranged relationship with the children.
  • There is a history of abuse or neglect by the other party.
  • The other mother or father can maintain a relationship with the children even after they live in different states. The parent who is not relocating has the means to create an appropriate place for the child to stay when he or she comes to visit and to make other appropriate arrangements such as for child care.

The judge may also consider the wishes or feelings of the child about whether he or she wants to move if the court finds it relevant.

With permission from other custodians

A custodial mother or father can also get permission to move from the child's other parent. In order to keep the process legal, the person wanting to leave the state or county should send the other party a notice of his or her plan to move through certified mail. This makes it harder for the parent not moving to claim he or she did not get notified of the intentions. This notification usually has to be made at least 60 days before the intended change.

A counter affidavit form should be served with the notice allowing the other parent to officially consent or object to the proposed move.

Sometimes the parent with custody of the children may have to notify other parties of their intentions to move. For example, if a grandmother has claims of custody over a child, she would also need to get a certified letter and provide permission for the move.

If the proper steps are not taken, the parent who relocates may lose custody of the children. Sometimes the courts can order fines or legal penalties if a move is made illegally.

A Pennsylvania divorcee may be able to move to a different state with a child if he or she gets permission from a judge or the other parent. It may be beneficial to work with a lawyer familiar with family law to get permission to relocate after a divorce. The procedures are very exact and failure to comply with the legal requirements, especially for notice, can create legal problems regarding the proposed move for either party. Anyone proposing or objecting to a parental relocation should consult an attorney to make sure all procedures are followed and rights preserved.

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