Ambler, PA asked in Child Custody, Divorce and Family Law for Pennsylvania

Q: "Redlining" and Child Relocation

Is anyone out there aware of "redlining" and how it can affect a child relocation decision, or appeal? Explanation: Parent was allowed to relocate child to the Upper East Side of Manhattan (2 hrs away). Non Relocating parent can not afford to move closer to NYC. Essentially "redlining" non-relocating parent out of the ability to move closer to child to exercise once a week dinner "visitation" that is part of final custody order, in addition to being a part of child daily extra curricular and school life.

Thank you.

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter Christopher Lomtevas
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Schenectady, NY
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: This asker confuses issues to the extent that he can never understand what happened and how it happened. We will disassemble the best we can how a §5337 relocation went south for the asker.

Synopsizing the facts, we see there was a modification of an order of custody that granted the relocating parent (most typically the mother). The question then becomes how the mother used the court to implement Pennsylvania's relocation statute to obtain a relocation. The asker understands that a relocation is a holy grail of custody modifications in any state because of the legalized separation that takes place between the child and the stay-behind parent.

Mother had to take certain steps in a certain sequence. Assuming no consent by the asker, mother had to give notice of the relocation sixty days before she moves or within ten days of learning of a relocation usually in the form of a letter that contains specific information and is served within a specific time. The statute excuses failure to provide notice of the relocation.

The asker "may file" with the court an objection to the notice. While the statute does not mandate an objection, the parent who fails to return the pre-packaged affidavit form will have his access to the child slip away. However if the stay-behind parent approves of the relocation, there are steps to take to confirm that outcome.

Assuming an objection to the relocation, the burden falls on the relocating parent to prove her case for relocation. The court must hold an expedited hearing after the notice and before the move. This is the same as saying every relocating parent has an advantage by dictating timing of the court's action.

There are ten factors a court must parrot in it relocation order weighing each of the ten. This is akin to a score card the judge can subjectively use to decide the relocation outcome. A very important factor that is not stated in these factors are the judge's opinions as to the parents. The judge can abhor one parent while adore the other parent. The detested parent will never succeed in showing integrity of his motives in objecting to the relocation while the adored parent will always prove her case. If the asker never appeared for any of the relocation action, then he simply defaulted, and the mother got away with the child.

The asker does not provide to us any of these procedural steps by which we could analyze what happened. Instead, we get a generalized philosophical question about some kind of tangential factor that may or may not apply to the relocation. "Redlining" is a term that is never used in custody cases in Pennsylvania, and the misuse of custody statutes is the game litigants and their attorney play to get the outcomes they desire.

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