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A post-divorce move may be illegal for you in Pennsylvania

It's natural to look for a fresh start in the time after your divorce. You've just been through a major ordeal, of course you will want time to heal and recover away from the emotional triggers lurking in your current neighborhood or city. Wait to fill the moving van, though. If you have a child, it may be illegal for you to relocate.

Most states have relocation or removal laws - laws which dictate that you must be granted permission to move out of state by the court that gave your custody order. Pennsylvania is different. Our state has considerably tighter laws on this subject.

Child relocation in Pennsylvania

If you have been granted physical custody of your child, Pennsylvania recognizes that the other parent still has the right to be available for parenting. This is why if you choose to move outside of a certain radius of your current home, you must give them advanced written warning.

The exact definition of what constitutes child relocation can be difficult to pin down. If you are planning a move, an experienced family law attorney will be a major help in making sure you are meeting all the requirements of your situation.

Preparation for relocation

Generally speaking, according to Pennsylvania's relocation statue, when you are relocating with your child, either a judge or everyone with custody rights to your child must consent to your move. This means you may be able to forego appearing in court if you speak with your former spouse. Alternatively, if the two of you don't see eye to eye, you may be able to bypass them by seeing a judge.

Anyone else with custody of your child must be notified of your plans to relocate 60 days before you move, and must be informed by certified mail with a return receipt requested. If you're forced into a situation where you have to move suddenly - an eviction, for example - you may give 10 days' notice.

Relocation letter requirements

Your written relocation proposal must include very specific details about where you intend to move, including your address, who you plan to live with and when you will be moving. Court appointed protections, like keeping your address confidential in the case of abuse, may still apply to these requirements. You will want to speak with a lawyer to clarify what information you may leave out.

A relocation proposal will include, but may not be limited to:

  • Your new physical address and mailing address.
  • The names and ages of everyone who will be living in the new residence.
  • Your new home telephone number.
  • What school district you will be in.
  • When you will be moving.
  • A revised version of your custody schedule.
  • A notice to those receiving your proposal that they have 30 days to object to your relocation, after which they will no longer be able to object.

Legal processes can quickly become complicated when divorced parents and their children are a factor. This becomes doubly true if your former spouse does not want you to relocate. The law is the most concerned with the wellbeing of your child - if your relocation is designed to improve their quality of life, the law will most likely be on your side.

If you're planning a move, make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork prepared. After that, it's just a matter of moving and enjoying your new home.

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