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Noncustodial Parent's Consent
Under Pennsylvania law, parents who relocate their children without the consent of the noncustodial parent can face abduction charges. This law supports the federally mandated Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, which states that only a child's home state can decide her custody status. According to Avallone Law Associates, a Pennsylvania family law firm, the law also protects noncustodial parents' rights when the custodial parent wants to relocate the child out of spite. A noncustodial parent can give his consent in writing without court intervention. However, it is important that consent is given at an evidentiary hearing called a "Plowman Hearing." According to the rules of the hearing, relocation must serve the best interest of the child, relocation cannot be a measure to separate the child from the other parent, and the noncustodial parent must be able to maintain his relationship with his child.
A parent with primary physical custody who wishes to relocate her child must file a relocation petition. A relocation petition, or "Plowman Petition," is designed to modify the existing child custody arrangement. Under the petition, the noncustodial parent may be granted custody for the summer, holiday or school breaks, or both to offset the visitation time missed because of the relocation. Moreover, the court typically does not allow a relocation based on remarriage or a new job. However, it may grant relocation if there are a substantial amount of family members in another state.
Place of Relocation
Parents wishing to relocate their child from Pennsylvania to another state have one consideration: distance. Distances of more than 50 or 70 miles may require that custodial parents file a relocation petition, especially if the distance would present a hardship for the noncustodial parent to have a relationship with the child. As an example, a relocation from Pennsylvania to New Jersey may not require a hearing if the noncustodial parent can travel reasonably and consistently without hardship. Sometimes, in rare cases, a custodial parent may wish to relocate her child out of the country. In this instance, the Pennsylvania courts then seek to ascertain that the country adheres to the Hague Convention that acknowledges U..S. custody laws under international treaty.
The Parenting Act of 1987 is the Washington law governing many child custody issues. The act is most relevant to married parents during dissolution of marriage or legal separation, but the principles of the law also apply to unmarried parents. According to the Washington State Bar Association, the law strives above all else to preserve a child's relationship with both parents in a safe, stable and loving manner.
Under Washington law, the parenting plan establishes all aspects of the parents' custody rights and responsibilities for their child, including the child's living arrangements. The residential schedule determines where the child will reside and the times when she will live there. The parenting plan must also contain a decision-making section stating how the parents will make major decisions for the child's life and resolve conflicts.
Obtain a Parenting Plan
Parents must receive court approval for a written parenting plan to take effect. The court can make custody orders as part of an ongoing dissolution of marriage, legal separation or parentage case if one or both of the parties submits a proposed parenting plan. Parents can also file a separate petition to modify custody or petition for a parenting plan. Non-parents can request custody through a separate petition as well. The court is likely to approve jointly-submitted parenting plans, while the court may require a hearing or trial if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan together. The court will base its decision on the best interests of the child.
When making a parenting plan order, the court must consider any potential concerns about the child's safety. For example, if one or both of the parents has perpetrated child abuse or domestic violence, the court can limit the parent's time with the child or require the parent to complete treatment, counseling or parenting classes.
Change of Parenting Plan
Washington law uses the word "modification" to describe a changed parenting plan—the state differentiates between minor and major modifications. One or both of the parents must file a modification request with the court and submit a new proposed parenting plan. If only one parent wants to change the parenting plan, the court must hold a trial. The requesting parent must first pass an "adequate cause" or "threshold" hearing by proving there is enough good reason to change the current parenting plan. The court generally only allows a major modification if the parent can show a substantial change in circumstances.