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My ex wants to move away with our kids. Can she do this?

Your ex-wife just landed a new job in Philadelphia. Now she wants to accept the position and move five and a half hours away—taking the kids with her. Does she have the right to do this?

If you have custodial rights, and the move impacts your custody arrangement, then this move is considered a “relocation” under Pennsylvania law. With relocations, you have some legal recourse.

When more than one party has custody of a child, that child’s relocation can only be approved if either:

  • Every party with custodial rights to the child approves the move or
  • The court approves the move.

Here’s how it works:

If your ex wants to move away with your kids, she is required to provide written notice to you about the relocation. She must send this notice by certified mail with return receipt requested, at least 60 days prior to the proposed move.

Note that it is critical for your ex to comply with the above requirement. If she up and moves without notice, she could face serious consequences. Her custody arrangement could be modified—or she could lose her custodial rights altogether.

If you oppose the proposed relocation, you have the opportunity to file an objection to relocation (as well as an objection to the resulting modification in child custody) within 30 days of receiving the notice. Submitting an objection of relocation initiates a court hearing to make a determination on the issue.

At the court hearing, you and your ex will both be given the opportunity to present your argument for or against relocation. A wide range of information is worthwhile to present here, including details regarding the quality of your relationship with your child and the impact of a move on your child’s wellbeing and your continued relationship. Depending on the age of your child, their preference may also be considered by the court.

Going through a relocation hearing to determine your future with your children can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, having an experienced family law attorney on your side can be critical in preparing you to provide a comprehensive, sound argument in court.

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