When is it a custody relocation?

Pennsylvania’s custody relocation statute, 23 PA C.S. 5337, requires the party seeking relocation to get court approval or the other parent’s permission prior to relocation. A relocation is defined as any move that would “significantly impair the ability of the nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights.” This definition allows some room for interpretation on when it is necessary to request relocation. Some obvious examples would include a move which would potentially require a flight or at least several hours driving. If you had a schedule with a mid-week dinner visit or overnight, it would be impractical to travel that distance every time.

However, many moves are a much shorter distance and it can be argued that there is not significant impact on the existing custody order. Nonetheless, you may still find that the courts expect a relocation petition. For example, what if you only move ten minutes away from where you live now; does this count as a relocation? Here are a few scenarios which may weigh in favor of still classifying the move as a relocation and following the relocation protocol in 23 PA C.S. 5337: (1) Across state lines (2) Across county lines (3) A different school district. When in doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution and request relocation. In C.M.K. v. K.E.M., the court held that the mere fact of filing for relocation does not support a presumption that the requested move is in fact a relocation and the parties can still litigate if the move does significantly impact the other parent’s custodial rights. 45 A.3d 417, 425-426 (Pa.Super. 2012).

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