Life may finally be beginning to settle down for you after the divorce. You settled into a good routine, the other parent gets to see the kids and you look forward to the future once again. Then you get a job offer that would take you and the kids out of Pennsylvania. It may be an offer that you really can’t afford to refuse, but the other parent isn’t quite on board with being so far away from the children.
You’re the primary custodial parent, and you wonder if you can just make the decision. You can figure out visitation once you and kids settle into your new home, right? Wrong. More than likely, the court approved a child custody order during the divorce. It probably said nothing about moving with the kids because, at the time, it wasn’t an issue. If you fail to adhere to that order, you could face additional legal problems. You and your former spouse may end up back in court to modify the current order.
How does the court view parental relocations?
Of course, the court doesn’t have the power to deny you the right to move. However, the court may deny your right to take the children with you when you move. Since the best interests of the children drive the decisions made by courts, judges often begin with the assumption that the children should remain where they currently reside, go to school and have friends, along with already arranged access to the other parent.
It would be wise to start from the premise that the court will disagree with your desire to move the children out of the state. You need to convince the court otherwise.
Factors to consider
The court will more than likely want to know how the move will improve the quality of life for the children. Are you getting a better job? Are you moving closer to relatives? Will your housing situation improve? Answering these questions positively may help sway the court.
For children who are mature enough or old enough, the court may take into consideration how each of them feels about the move. No requirement for the court to abide by the wishes of the children exists, but it can be taken into consideration.
The relationship between the children and the other parent
You may no longer want to be with your former spouse, but he or she will always be a parent to the children. Except under certain circumstances (such as abuse), the other parent has the right to remain in the children’s lives. How visitation occurs after the move will greatly affect the judge’s decision. If you can show that the other parent will continue to have access to the children in person and possibly through the use of electronic devices, the court may agree.
Just as you may have turned to a legal advocate to guide and assist you through your divorce, you may want to consider doing the same in this case. Providing the court with the appropriate evidence that the relocation will benefit the children could prove a challenge. A knowledgeable family law attorney will review your situation and help you build the best possible case for the relocation.