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First Appellate Decision on New Relocation Statute

In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed sweeping changes to the Custody Law in Pennsylvania. One of the major changes was the addition of a specific procedure which must be followed before a person can relocate with a minor child.

In this case, E.D. v. M.P., which is a 2011 case, Father did not serve the proper Notice, that he intended to relocate and Mother did not file the required Counter-affidavit. However, because neither party objected to these failures, the Court treated the issues as waived.

Hot Tip: A party intending on relocating must first serve the required Notice on the other parent, in most cases. If you don’t, that may effect one’s ability to relocate. However, if you don’t tell the Judge that the other side didn’t send the Notice, the Court won’t hold that failure against the other party.

The Relocation statute specifically lists 16 factors the Court MUST consider in deciding a relocation case. If the Court does not consider these factors, the Court has made an error.

Further, under this sweeping Custody statute, the criminal backgrounds of both Mother and Father, as well as all people residing in Mother and Father’s household, must be considered by the Court. Also, the history of drug and alcohol abuse must be analyzed.

Hot Tip: It is important that the Judge is made aware of the names and birth dates of all members of the opposing parent’s household. Criminal, drug and alcohol abuse histories can be very relevant in deciding who gets custody and on what schedule.

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