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Is a custody modification required for a parent to relocate?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2023 | Parenting plans

Once the Pennsylvania family courts approve a custody order, they generally expect parents to follow it. However, sometimes a review and update of a custody order are necessary. When major family changes occur, it may be necessary to update the custody order to better reflect the needs of the children and adults in the family. One of the more common reasons that a custody order becomes obsolete is the desire of one parent to relocate.

Is a modification necessary when a parent moves to a new home in a shared custody scenario in Pennsylvania?

Long-distance moves generally require pre-approval

If a parent simply moves out of the marital home and into a new house in the same area, that decision will not require the approval of their co-parent or the Pennsylvania family courts. However, if they want to move far enough away to impact the access of the other parent, then pre-approval is likely necessary. They will need to provide at least 60 days of advance notice in most cases.

If the other parent recognizes that the move would be beneficial for the children, the adults can cooperate for an uncontested custody modification. Other times, one parent may challenge the necessity or appropriateness of the relocation.

A contested custody modification would follow. A judge would look at the situation carefully to decide if the move would be in the best interests of the children. Judges can modify the custody order to allow the children to move with one parent or to drastically alter the parenting time arrangements so that one parent can move and then see the children during school breaks after relocating.

Understanding when going back to court for a relocation is necessary may help parents better plan for major changes while sharing custody.

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