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Custody Relocation Proceedings- A Look at Specific Factors

The Court must examine the relocation factors closely, not anyone factor takes precedence, however, the Court may accord more weight to one than another.

Attorney Nichole A. Collins, Custody Relocation Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

In a prior article, I discussed what "relocation" means in terms of its significance in a Pennsylvania custody matter.  (See link to blog article).  The Act of 2010, set forth some specific factors that the Court must now consider.  Under the provisions of the codified Act, 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5337(h), the Court is to consider the following:

(h) Relocation factors.--In determining whether to grant a proposed relocation, the court shall consider the following factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child:

  1. The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child's relationship with the party proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating 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 nonrelocating 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.

Again, not all of these factors may be relevant and some may warrant more attention than others.  In the case of Price v. Foster, 125 Dauph. 78 (July 20, 2012), a parent was permitted to relocate to Arkansas with their two-year-old over the other parent's objections.  There, the relocating party wanted to move to pursue their doctoral program leading to a Ph.D. in criminal justice, which included free tuition, stipend and health insurance.  The Court reasoned that the relocating party had ties to Arkansas (family) and an inability to find comparable work in the area (Dauphin County, PA).  The benefits that would flow to the relocating parent would also flow indirectly to the child.  The Court likewise, considered all of the other factors and held that the move would not be against the child's best interests.

If you have questions about custody relocation, contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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