Relocation cases can be among the most difficult and heart-wrenching for clients, attorneys and judges. In Pennsylvania, the Custody statute has recently changed and the relocation rules and procedures are much more stringent. There are forms, affidavits and notices which must be filed and responded to within designated time periods and if they are not, many times the litigant is out of luck.
Judges in relocation cases are very careful to review each case on its facts to see how the parties stack up under the ten (10) relocation factors. It is crucial for parents to realize that they must prove their case (to either allow or disallow a relocation) by arguing each of the factors, which are as follows:
1. The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child's relationship with the party proposing to relocate and with the non-relocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child's life.
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.
3. The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties.
4. The child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
5. Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of either party to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party.
6. Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the party seeking the relocation, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.
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.
8. The reasons and motivation of each party for seeking or opposing the relocation.
9. The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household and whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party.
10. Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.
As you can see there is a lot involved in relocation cases. It is important to consider each factor, and whether it is worth the considerable expense to petition for, or against, a proposed relocation. Most importantly, please hire an attorney who has relocation experience to assist you in this endeavor.