On November 9, 2011, the Superior Court filed its first decision (E.D. v. M.P., 2011 PA Super 238 (Pa.Super. 2011), regarding the newly enacted Child Custody Act, 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5321 related to a Petition for Relocation. The Superior Court vacated the trial court’s order and remanded the case to the trial court to make the proper analysis under the new law. In a relocation case, the Court must consider the following ten factors:
(1) The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child’s relationship with the party proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child’s life.
(2) The age, developmental stage, needs of the child and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.
(3) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties.
(4) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
(5) Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of either party to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party.
(6) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the party seeking the relocation, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.
(7) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity.
(8) The reasons and motivation of each party for seeking or opposing the relocation.
(9) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household and whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party.
(10) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.
Because the trial court failed to look at these ten factors they remanded the case back to the trial court. So, the lesson from the case is: make sure you present testimony at the trial court level regarding these ten factors to ensure your case is compliant with the current case law.