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Bucks County Custody Relocation Lawyers

Resolving legal issues caused by a parent moving after a divorce

A custody order should be firm enough to support your rights, but flexible enough to accommodate inevitable changes in your life. For some people, however, circumstances can change drastically which necessitate the need to seek experienced legal counsel. One such circumstance is the custodial parent’s pressing desire to move a significant distance away or even out of state. Of course, once the court has issued a custody order, parents cannot simply pick up their kids and leave, and there are serious legal consequences for doing so. If you are the custodial parent hoping to accomplish a move, or the noncustodial parent looking to prevent one, The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney & Associates, P.C. can apprise you of your legal options and represent your interests capably in court.

Solving parental relocation issues through a petition or agreement

When a parent who shares custody of a child has to move, it is imperative to follow proper legal procedures. Any relocation of a child that would significantly impair another parent’s right to custody or visitation must be approved by a court or through an agreement between the parties. The steps for relocation include:

  • Notice. Parents intending to move their children must provide at least 60 days’ notice to others with custodial rights.
  • Contesting or agreeing. At this point, the non-relocating parent can consent to the move or petition the court to prevent the relocation.
  • Court action. If the relocation is contested, the Pennsylvania court will use a 10-part test to decide whether to allow parental relocation with a child. If there has been no objection to the move, the relocating parent must still prove to the court that notice requirements were met.

Consequences for failing to follow these procedures are severe and will impact your ability to relocate. Our Bucks County custody attorneys advise you of the appropriate course of action. The 60-day notice period can be a fruitful time for working out an agreement with the non-relocating parent.

If the dispute is heard in court, each parent must be prepared to argue in favor of or against the move, citing the factors the court must consider:

  • The nature, quality and extent of involvement of the child with both parties and also other people who are significant in the child’s life
  • The age, developmental stage and needs of the child that could impact the child’s physical, educational and emotional development
  • The ease of preserving the relationship between the child and the non-relocating party
  • The child’s preference, depending on the child’s age
  • If the parties have a pattern of conduct that promotes or harms the relationship with the child
  • If relocation will enhance the quality of life for the relocating parent
  • If relocation will enhance the quality of life for the child
  • Motivations of each party in terms of the relocation
  • Past or present abuse
  • Other factors affecting the best interest of the child

In addition to above, the court will hear virtually any relevant fact. Our attorneys take a hands-on approach, learning everything we can about your circumstances and your relationship to your child, so that we can advocate vigorously for you.

Understanding special rules for members of the military

If a party to a divorce action is active military, he or she is protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides an extension of response time to a complaint and possible delay of divorce proceedings until return from deployment. Special rules also exist for transfer of custody during deployment. In these situations, an arrangement can be created for transfer of custody from the deploying military parent to the other parent. The order can detail the circumstances of the transfer and outline the specific or expected dates of departure, expected date of return, educational care and any other custodial arrangements.

The agreement can also make it absolutely clear that the child or children will be returned immediately to the deploying parent without the need to return to court to request relief. If you or your former spouse is a member of the military, our attorneys will help you understand your rights in regards to deployment and relocation.

Contact us for legal advice before attempting to relocate with your children

If you plan to move, suspect your former spouse plans to move, or if you have been given notice of an impending relocation, The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney & Associates, P.C. is prepared to protect your rights. Our divorce attorneys understand these complicated issues and provide the sound advice you need. Call us today at 215.493.3360 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.