Relocation under the new Child Custody Act

When the new Pennsylvania Child Custody Act passed last year, it left two opened questions for litigants to argue over: First: when does a move constitute a relocation? and Second: Can the moving parent challenge the move being considered a relocation? Relocation is defined as “a change of residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights”. Because such as definition does not provide a standard of evaluation for impairment of custodial rights—It encourages many litigants to file a notice of relocation out of caution even if it is only a small move a few miles away. This led to another issue: Does the notice of relocation imply relocation within the meaning of the act or not? The Superior court in C.M.K found that a party cannot be punished for taking the safe route and filing the notice then later challenging in trial that the move is in fact a relocation.

Thanks to C.M.K, the court now bases its determination of a move being a relocation and its potential to impair the custodial rights of the non-relocating parent, on a list of 10 determining factors. In looking at this issue the court will now take in consideration how much time the non-relocating parent can spend with his child and also whether the non-relocating parent can continue to be involved in co-parenting decisions, The court weights out the financial and emotional advantages and disadvantages of the move for the child’s sake and the sake of his or her relationship with the non-custodial parent.