Legal Question in Family Law in Pennsylvania

living in pennslyvania.. if i get seperated.. can i leave state with my girls?? ages 9 14...

Asked on 11/23/11, 11:30 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

If there is NO custody order in place, then yes, you can leave the state with your children. However, if you pack up and go without saying anything, know that your spouse can bring an action for child custody. Your spouse has 6 months to do this. Once you have been gone from the state for at least 6 months, and if no action is brought by your spouse within that time, then any custody action will have to be decided in the children's new home state.

Doing things in secret is never a really good idea. It will be far less expensive in the long run if you and your spouse can have a cooperative decision regarding the children. You don't have to like each otherr, but you did have children together and your spouse has just as much a right to parent the children as you do. For the sake of the children, you thus need to find a way to communicate and allow the other parent to be as much a part of the children's life as possible, barring abuse or some other circumstances which I do not know about.

If there is a custody in place or an action pending or one which is brought within the 6 months, courts take a dim view of sudden moves out of state as it looks like the custodial parent is doing it solely to prevent the other parent from visiting the children. The court will therefore scrutinize the reasons why the custodial parent desires to move out of state. The court will look at the children's ties to PA and relatives there as well. Bottom line - the court will always decide what it feels to be in the children's best interests and I have seen cases where a parent is allowed to leave the state, but not with the children.

What I would do is get a family law attorney. You will need one for the divorce, equitable distribution and possibly alimony anyway. The attorney can review your situation and also address issues relating to support and custody of your children.

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Answered on 11/23/11, 1:19 pm

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