Taking Relocation In Custody To A Whole New Level

shutterstock_165037775A top story this week was the custody case involving Olympic skier, Bode Miller.  Read more about it by clicking here.  The case is newsworthy, not so much because it involves a top-notch athlete, but rather because it took the concept of relocation in custody cases to a whole new level. 

In most states, especially where a custody order is already in place, a parent is not permitted to relocate with a child if such relocation will significantly impair the other parent’s right to enjoy time with the child.  For example, if the parents both reside in Pennsylvania and share custody of their child 50/50, if one parent decides to relocate with the child to New York, the other parent will no longer be able to enjoy custody of the child 50 percent of the time due to the distance new balance 997 outlet.  The Court then needs to determine whether the parent who desires the relocation should be permitted to take the child to the new destination. 

In determining whether relocation is warranted, a Court will look at the amount of time that the non-relocating parent currently spends with the child and whether that time will be impacted by the move. The Court will also look at a variety of factors concerning the proposed relocation such as the reason the parent wants to relocate (i.e. a new job opportunity, marriage, moving closer to family) and how the relocation will impact the child at issue (i.e. a better school district, improved atmosphere, being closer to extended family, etc.).  Deciding whether a relocation is permitted requires a thoughtful determination by the Court, keeping in mind at all times, what is in the best interest of the child.

In the Bode Miller matter, the Court, however, looked at the relocation of the child even before it was born.  The Court initally determined that the mother of the child, Sara McKenna, wrongfully removed the child, while in utero, from California (which was Mr. Miller’s home state)  to New York to pursue her career and then education inexpensive jordans.  In fact, the New York Court where Ms. McKenna filed to confirm custody of the child ordered instead that the child be sent to live with Mr. Miller in California.  The 9 month old child was returned to Ms. McKenna this week when that decision was reversed.

As a family law practitioner who has been involved in countless relocation cases, the tension that exists between the parties in these matters in understandable.  Each parent wants to have the opportunity to raise the child and participate in his or her life even though they are unable  to do so as a single family unit.  It is troubling, however, to think about parties’ litigating these issues and a Court possibly making a custody determination even before a child is actually born.

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About Family Law Focus
The Family Law Focus blog provides highlights, updates and insights on complex family disputes including divorce, division of property, and alimony; child and spousal support; child custody; domestic violence; pre- and post-nuptial agreements; name changes; and adoption or termination of parental rights.
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The Editor

Attorney Jennifer A. Brandt, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Family Law practice, has represented a wide variety of clients in hundreds of family law cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Jennifer is a regular legal commentator on national and local television outlets such as CNN, Fox New Network, HLN, MSNBC, Fox29, ABC News, NBC and CBS and frequently writes and contributes to articles in numerous publications, including the Huffington Post, Fox Business.com, The PhiIly Post, Avvo.com, Allparenting.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Business Journal, the National Law Journal, and Main Line Today magazine.
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