The divorce is finally over. You and your child can now work on getting your lives back on track and moving toward your new futures. For many people, finding a new home is the perfect way to get a fresh start. Don’t be too hasty to start packing, though, it may be illegal for you to move in the wake of your divorce.
If your former spouse has any custody rights, you are required to notify them of the fact that you are moving; provide specific details on where you’re moving to; and they must approve of your decision. Convincing an ex to agree to a move may seem like a major task – especially if there are still hard feelings after your divorce – but there are several ways you can get the process moving in your favor.
Relocating with a child
Pennsylvania defines child relocation as “a change in residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights.” This regulation is in place because our state believes that custody holding parents should be allowed to spend time parenting and not be blindsided by their child suddenly being moved far from reach.
If you expect your former spouse to object to your relocation, speak with an attorney before you start the relocation process. Hiring an attorney is an excellent way to shield yourself from potential backlash from your ex, provides protection if they act inappropriately and your attorney will also save you time and emotional strain by representing you to your former spouse.
Elements of a relocation proposal
If you are planning to move, you must send notice 60 days ahead of time to every other party with custody of your child via certified mail. If you are in a situation where you must move quickly – an eviction, for example – you may have the option to provide 10 days of notice.
An attorney will also be able to help you put together your relocation proposal. Your proposal must include these, and possibly other, elements:
- The date you will be moving and why you wish to relocate.
- The address and telephone number of your new home.
- The names and ages of everyone that will be in the home.
- The name of your child’s new school district and school.
- A revised custody schedule.
- A counter-affidavit informing them they have 30 days to object.
This is only a baseline of what information needs to be included. Depending on your circumstances there may be modifications to what needs to be included. If you have been a victim of abuse, for example, you may be able to keep your new address confidential.
If the other party objects
Upon receiving your notice, the other party has the option to object to your relocation. By no means are you then barred from moving simply because they say “no”. As stated by your counter-affidavit, they will have 30 days to formally object to your move, at which point there will be a court hearing to decide whether your relocation is well suited for the child.
This is when hotheaded ex’s arguments will often go up in smoke. The court is most concerned with your child’s well-being – they will look at several items to determine how the proposed relocation benefits them, and decide whether or not to allow the move. This means that so long as you have legitimate and good reasons for wanting to relocate, you will have a strong argument at the hearing.
Moving is already a major undertaking. Adding the extra variables of an objecting former spouse and relocation laws makes it a quagmire of stress and confusion. With proper self-advocacy and legal representation, though, you will be on your way to a brighter future in short order.