Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation


Awarding mother primary physical custody was in the best interests of the children. The court also granted her request to relocate with the children to an area approximately 90 minutes away.

The parties were the parents of two minor children, ages 9 and 14. Mother filed a complaint for custody and a notice of proposed relocation.

In reviewing the custody factors under 23 Pa. C.S.A. 5328(a), the court found that mother had sustained a very close relationship with both children since their birth. She continued to provide for the daily needs of the children. Father saw them after school on a regular basis, but the evidence was limited with regard to the parenting duties he performed. The record indicated that father and the older child had engaged in a serious argument which caused the child to have a lack of trust with regard to father. Mother allegedly made derogatory comments about father in the presence of the children. However, at the time of the hearing it appeared that both children had a positive relationship with father.

Because mother had always been the primary parent, the children had a closer bond with her. Mother’s extended family contributed to the children’s support system. The court found that mother was more likely to provide for the children’s daily physical, emotional, developmental and educational needs. Accordingly, the court concluded that mother should have primary physical custody of the children.

Mother sought to move with the children to Buck County, Pennsylvania, which was approximately 90 minutes away from the children’s current home. Mother testified that she would have an opportunity to advance her career if she moved. The court considered the relocation factors in 23 Pa. C.S.A. 5337(h). Relocation required the children to change schools. The younger child was enthusiastic about the proposed move, but the older child was reluctant to change schools and lose contact with her friends. The parties agreed that both school districts were of comparable quality. The record contained no evidence of any harm to either child from the proposed move. Given the relatively short distance, the court observed that it was feasible to preserve the relationship between the children and their father, extended family members and friends. The judge found the older child’s concern about lack of contact with friends was somewhat exaggerated, because she could still communicate with them and would be spending time with father in Monroe County during his custodial periods. Although father questioned mother’s motivation for the proposed move, the court concluded that she had legitimate reasons for the move, and it was in the children’s best interests to relocate.

REF: Digests of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 43 PLW 906, Tuesday, October 6, 2020 Del Solo v. Del Solo, PICS Case No. 20-0983 (C.P. Monroe Aug. 31, 2020)

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