Some of the questions parties often have in PA custody cases relate to relocation. One party may want to know whether they can move with their child(ren) without the other party’s permission. On the flip side, the non-moving party may want to know whether their ex can move with their child(ren) without their permission.
Custody Order in Place
When there is a custody order in place, the answer to both of these questions is “no.” The moving party must get permission from the other party to relocate with the child(ren). If the non-moving party objects, then the moving party must get the court’s approval to relocate.
Parties who have primary custody may think that because they have the children most of the time, they do not need the other party’s permission. For instance, a parent with primary custody who has the children all the time except for every other weekend may think they do not need permission of the other party. This is not true. If the other parent’s custodial rights are affected, i.e., less time with the children, the moving parent cannot just decide to move unilaterally. If so, there may be significant consequences that impact the moving party’s custody rights. There have been many PA custody cases where a custodial parent lost custody temporarily or even permanently as a result of a unilateral move.
If the non-moving party objects to the relocation, then the matter will be resolved before the court. It is best to consult a custody lawyer if you want to relocate as there are procedures the moving party must comply with per PA custody law to get the court’s approval, such as providing notice to the non-moving party within a certain period of time before the move.
On the flip side, the objecting party must also comply with legal procedures in order to object and stop the move. For instance, the objecting party must file a form called the “Counter-Affidavit Regarding Relocation.” This form must be filed within 30 days of receiving the notice of the move. Otherwise, the non-moving party may waive his or her right to object.
For a detailed discussion on how PA courts approve relocation, see Doylestown, Bucks County Custody Cases - Relocation.
No Custody Order in Place
Regardless of whether there is a custody order in place, the moving party may not move without properly notifying the other party. There are legal risks for the moving party if they move without their ex’s permission. The non-moving party can file a court action against the moving party to bring the children back. In addition, the moving party’s custodial rights may be negatively impacted in a future custody case.