QUESTION: “My ex-spouse exercises visitation with my kids, but I want to move with them to another state. Can I go?”

You finally got that big job offer.  The new position will advance your career, and the pay is really good. There’s just one problem – you will have to move out-of-state. Your custody order requires the children to spend every other weekend with your ex. Will you have to turn the job down?

No, you won’t have to turn the job down, but you can’t just pick up and move with the kids. If there is a court order that grants your ex-spouse visitation rights, you will need to get his or her permission before moving.

You will want to let your ex know about the move as soon as possible. You can discuss it verbally, but you must also send a formal written notice to your ex using certified mail. This notice should include:

  • The date that you plan to move
  • The reason you are relocating
  • The address you intend to move to
  • Your mailing address after the move
  • Your phone number after the move (if available)
  • The names and ages of everyone who will live in the new residence
  • The name of the new school district and the school the children will be attending
  • Any other relevant information

You will also need to include a revised custody schedule and a counter-affidavit. You must advise you ex that he has 30 days to reply. He can either agree with your proposal, or he can file the counter-affidavit with the family court.

If your ex objects to the move, he must let the court know by filing the counter-affidavit. The court must then hold a hearing. It is up to you to show that relocating is in the best interest of your children.

The court will base its decision on ten factors:

  • The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and others who play a significant role in the child’s life
  • The age, developmental stage, and needs  of the child and the effect that the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational and emotional development and any special needs
  • The feasibility of the child maintaining a relationship with the non-relocating parent after the move
  • The child’s preference (based on the age and maturity of the child)
  • Whether there has been a pattern of one parent trying to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • How the move will enhance the relocating parent’s quality of life
  • How the move will enhance the child’s quality of life
  • The reason that the parent is seeking to relocate and the reason that the other parent is objecting
  • Any history of abuse by a parent or household member and any risk of continued harm
  • Any other factors that affect the best interest of the child

Your divorce shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your career, from moving closer family, or from relocating with a new spouse.  If your ex objects to your plans, you may need the assistance of a Pennsylvania child custody attorney. The attorney will help you prepare your notice of intent to relocate and/or present your case to the court. To learn more, please contact Petrelli Previtera at 215-523-6900.