Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation


Mother was permitted to relocate to another state with the parties’ minor child, because the court concluded the move would improve the child’s general quality of life.

 The parties were the parents of a minor child, Christopher, age 5. They resided together for approximately the first ten months of the child’s life. After that, the parties shared time with Christopher, but he was in the mother’s care the majority of the time.

Mother sought to relocate to Florida with the child, and father objected. He filed a complaint requesting shared legal and physical custody of Christopher. The court considered the facts of this case in lights of the custody factors listed in 23 Pa.C.A.S 5328(a)

The court determined mother was the parent most likely to encourage frequent and continuing contact between Christopher and the other parent. Although the evidence indicated father sometimes went lengthy periods without asking to see the child, mother acknowledged that Christopher needed contact with his father. This case did not involve any allegations of abuse by either party. Father suggested mother had a drug habit, but she claimed that was no longer an issue, and the court noted that father did not present any evidence to contrary. Furthermore, father did not seek sole custody based on mother’s alleged drug issues. Mother had been Christopher’s primary parent since birth. She was the parent who took him to his healthcare appointments. Father had not been paying child support, so mother had been solely providing for Christopher financial support. Both parents were capable of making responsible decision for their child, and they were able to co-parent.

Father argued that mother’s proposed move to Florida would significantly affect his custody rights with Christopher. Mother stated that she had a job opportunity in Florida, and extended family members and friends were available there to provide childcare. Mother also testified that the climate in Florida would be better for Christopher, who suffered from acute asthma attacks. Father had extended family in Pennsylvania to assist with childcare. The paramount concern in any custody determination was the best interest of the child. M.C v.J.T.R., 85 A.3d 1058. Although the court acknowledged that the move would affect father’s contact with his son, the record contained evidence that the move to Florida would improve Christopher’s general quality of life.

The court granted mother’s relocation request, and it entered an order for shared legal custody, which allowed father to have time with Christopher which included alternating holidays, every spring break, and every summer except for the first and last weeks of summer. The court ordered mother to bear the full cost of the child’s transportation until the summer of 2020, when the parties were ordered to share equally in the transportation costs for the child.

Digest of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 42 PLW 870, Tuesday, September 10, 2019 Kindly visit our Child Custody and Child Relocation websites or contact one of our Family Law Attorneys, Philadelphia or Child Relocation Attorneys, Philadelphia at 215-977-8200 for more information on this topic.