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Posts tagged "relocation"

Legal Issues When One Parent Moves Out of State

When deciding custody, the courts in most states use the "best interests of a child" measurement to determine division of custody and visitation rights. When the parents live a significant distance from each other, whether the custodial or non-custodial parent moves, "the best interests of a child" are again brought into the equation along with other relocation factors. Unless the parents are able to come to an agreement outside of court, the court may decide to permit the move or not, and can order new custody or visitation agreements. Different states have different laws, so it's best to review the case with a legal counsel who is familiar with your state's law.

Custody Relocation

Parties should be aware of court requirements prior to moving with minor children. A local move may not require any additional steps to be taken other than just providing the new address to the other parent. If the move is of a significant distance and could impact the existing custody schedule additional steps must be taken prior to moving. 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." Procedurally, the party intending to relocate should give at least 60 days' notice or notice as soon as possible after they have knowledge of the relocation. A full hearing on the relocation should be held prior to the move if the relocation is contested. In addition to addressing the 16 factors to consider in any custody award, the moving party must also address the 10 relocation factors. The moving party has the burden of proof to show relocation will serve the best interests of the child(ren) and that there is no improper motive in seeking to move.

Steps to take before moving with children

In a custody matter, court approval or permission of the parent is required prior to a relocation. A relocation is defined as any move that will substantially interfere with the custodial rights of the other parent. The specific details of your existing custody schedule are relevant in determining if any contemplated move would cause a substantial interference. Moving to a different school district is not necessarily a relocation though it triggers legal custody issues. Similarly, moving to a different state may not necessarily count as a relocation. 23 Pa CS 5337 lays out the specific procedures to be followed in the event of a proposed relocation which will interrupt the existing arrangements. First, the party seeking relocation should give 60 days notice to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested. If not possible to give 60 days notice, notice should be given within 10 days of becoming aware of the relocation.

Changes to NJ Custody Relocation Laws

If you are seeking to move to a distance that makes your current custody schedule difficult or impossible to follow it classifies as a relocation. In the event of a move that does classify as a relocation the party looking to move should obtain the written consent of the other parent or court approval. Previously, New Jersey courts primarily focused on if there would be any harm to the child in allowing the move. In a recent decision (Bisbing v. Bisbing) the New Jersey courts have shifted their focus to considering if the move is in the child's best interests. This standard puts the burden on the party looking to relocate to demonstrate how it benefits the child. It also allows for a better look at how the move affects both parents.

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.

When is it a custody 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." This definition allows some room for interpretation on when it is necessary to request relocation. Some obvious examples would include a move which would potentially require a flight or at least several hours driving. If you had a schedule with a mid-week dinner visit or overnight, it would be impractical to travel that distance every time.

Improper Custody 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." Procedurally, the party intending to relocate should give at least 60 days notice or notice as soon as possible after they have knowledge of the relocation. A full hearing on the relocation should be held prior to the move if the relocation is contested. In addition to addressing the 16 factors to consider in any custody award, the moving party must also address the 10 relocation factors. The moving party has the burden of proof to show relocation will serve the best interests of the child(ren) and that there is no improper motive in seeking to move. 

Custody Relocation Procedures

In a custody matter, court approval or permission of the parent is required prior to a relocation. A relocation would be any move that substantially interferes with the custodial rights of the other parent. 23 Pa CS 5337 lays out the specific procedures to be followed in the event of a proposed relocation. First, the party seeking relocation should give 60 days notice to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested. If not possible to give 60 days notice, notice should be given within 10 days of becoming aware of the relocation. The notice of relocation should include as much information as possible regarding the new address including names and ages of individuals who will be residing there, home telephone number, name of new school district and school, and date of proposed relocation. A counter-affidavit should also be supplied with the notice giving the other party the opportunity to object to the relocation. 

Custody Relocation and Alternative Forms of Visitation

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." 23 Pa C.S. 5322. 25 percent of the 35 million children with separated, divorced or single parents have a parent that lives a significant distance from the other parent, limiting the amount of traditional custody time with the non-custodial parent. In addition to giving notice of the proposed relocation and petitioning the court if the other party won't consent, the party seeking relocation is to submit a proposed order outlining the custody schedule in the event of a relocation. As with any custody decision, the party seeking relocation must show how the relocation is in the child's best interests. A party seeking relocation should use the proposed order to demonstrate their genuine intent to ensure the nonrelocating party will still have a strong relationship with the child(ren) as a Judge will usually believe maintaining a strong parent-child relationship is in the child's best interests. This responsibility to prove that a strong parent-child relationship will continue has become easier with the development of social media and video calling services. In fact, the term "virtual visitation" has been coined to describe the opportunities for parents and children to remain touch through the use of technology.

Application of Custody Relocation Law

Section 5337 of the new custody laws sets out the procedures and standards for relocation requests. E.D. v. M.P., 2011 PA Super. 238, is one of the first cases to apply the new relocation law. In E.D. v. M.P., Mother appealed after the lower court granted Father's relocation on the grounds that Father didn't comply with the provisions of Sec. 5337 among other issues.

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