There are dozens of reasons why a person might want to relocate. A new job. A new relationship.
But if you have children and have been through a divorce, the process of relocating is anything but simple. You can’t just pick up and go.
Pennsylvania’s definition of relocation.
Some states define a relocation as any move which takes you 100 miles or more from your spouse. Others say it’s not a relocation until you leave the state.
Pennsylvania doesn’t use either one of these definitions. It’s considered a relocation if your move will significantly impact your spouse’s ability to exercise his or her parenting rights.
See also: How Technology Helps You Co-Parent.
This is up to the court’s discretion. If your spouse has a private jet and you both have a ton of money, moving 300 miles away might not be a big deal. It might not be a problem if you’ve got a new, fair parenting schedule worked out, and are willing to absorb some of the costs of getting your child to his or her other parent.
One of 2 things must happen for you to make your move.
One way you could be cleared to relocate is if your spouse agrees to the relocation in writing. To obtain this the right way, you’ll need to send your spouse a certified letter informing him or her of the proposed relocation at least 60 days before your proposed move date.
You can also send it up to 10 days after finding out about the relocation. For example, your job wants you to take a position in another state and will fire you if you refuse. That’s a blindsiding maneuver, and would allow for the 10-days exception. You could also do it if it’s not reasonably possible to meet the 60 day deadline, but reasonable varies.
The notice must contain the right information, included:
- Your proposed address.
- The school district the children would be attending school in.
- The names and ages of everyone who would be living in the new home.
- A proposal for a revised co-parenting agreement.
- The reason for the relocation.
The letter also needs to include a properly worded counter-affidavit your spouse can use to object to the relocation, as well as a notice which tells your spouse how much time he or she has to respond.
If you can’t obtain your spouse’s agreement and still want to move you’ll have to bring the matter before a judge. The judge will use the “best interests of the child” standard to make a decision.
He or she may approve the relocation, deny the relocation, or create some sort of conditional approval. For example, the judge may allow the move, but only if you’re willing to allow your children to live with your spouse while you accept a visitation schedule.
If you go before a judge you need to be prepared.
First and foremost you have to be ready and able to demonstrate there is no malicious intent behind this move. Many parents do try to relocate in order to make it harder for a spouse to interact with a child. This is called relocation parental alienation.
See also: What is Parental Alienation?
Second, you have to show you’ve taken the child’s best interests into account and are attempting to do right by everyone involved.
Finally, you need to show you’ve followed the proper steps.
You’ll have your best chance at succeeding at all of these things if you have a good family law attorney by your side. Any proposed change or modification to an existing divorce decree can be difficult. You need to put an expert on your side.
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