Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation

Mother is Allowed to Relocate With Minor Child Based on the Best Interest of Child Analysis

In the child custody/child relocation case of George v. Sprangler, PICS Case No. 14-1259 (C.P. Lawrence, July 17, 2014) the Honorable John W. Hodge ruled that it was in the best interest of the Child Analysis to allow the mother to relocate with the parties’ minor child. The facts of the case are as follows:

Plaintiff mother filed a petition to relocate with the parties’ minor child. The court granted the petition.

Plaintiff mother and defendant father were the natural parents of the minor child born July 9, 2012. The parties remained a couple after the birth of the minor child until October 2012.

After the parties separated, father testified that he was allowed to see the minor child, but mother would not allow father to have the child at his residence. Father filed a custody complaint, and an emergency hearing was held in Butler County, Pa. where father resided. The parties tried co-parenting counseling for a period, but the sessions did not have a positive long-term outcome. Mother and father had difficulties with communication, so much so that mother rarely attended custody exchanges.

Mother married in March 2014, and father had a paramour that resided with him since December 2013. Both mother’s husband and father’s paramour played a supportive role in the child’s life without imposing on the role of the parents.

Mother and her new husband sought to relocate to Beaver Falls, Chippewa Township, Beaver County, Pa. from West Pittsburgh, Lawrence County, Pa.  This move would increase the travel time for exchanges between the parties, as father resided in Butler County, Pa.

Despite issues with communication, both mother and father played active roles in the minor child’s life. Both parents attended doctors’ appointments and exercised their custodial rights with the child. Mother and father had similar parenting styles and nurtured the minor child.

In any custody proceeding, the court’s main concern was the most appropriate custody arrangements for the child. Given her developmental progress, the court found that, despite the parties’ complete inability to communicate, child was in a stable environment with both mother and father.

In its best interests of the child analysis, the court considered the factors legitimately affecting the child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual well being, including the specific factors set forth in 23 Pa.C.S.A.  5328(a). The court granted mother’s petition to relocate and awarded the parties shared physical and shared legal custody.

Reference: Digest of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 37PLW790 (August 19, 2014)

Filed Under: Child Custody; Child Support; Child Relocation; Best Interest of Child

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