Internet dating and networking programs such as Match.com, JDate, LinkedIn, and even Facebook, significantly increase the odds of a separated or divorced parent finding a new mate or a new job outside of his or her current geographical area. In order for that parent to move away to take the job, or to move forward with a new relationship, that parent must follow the procedure for a custody relocation as set forth in 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5337 and Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1915.17. Increased use of sophisticated technology by both parents and children has changed the way in which family law attorneys present relocation cases to the courts. Just as technology has made relocation a more likely event for a family, it may also make it easier for parents and children who live far apart to maintain their relationship and, therefore, easier for a parent seeking to relocate to present their case to the court.

The threshold issue in any relocation case is whether the move “significantly impairs the ability of a nonrelocating parent to exercise custodial rights” as noted in the definition of relocation in 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5322. There is no bright-line test for what determines a “significant impairment,” but, generally, a relocation significantly impairs the other parent’s ability to exercise custodial rights if the current custody schedule, or an alternate schedule with an equal amount of time, is not possible or feasible. The focus in the definition of relocation on the impact on the nonrelocating parent is further highlighted in the factors for the court to consider in relocation cases as the factors, enumerated in 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5337(h), include analyzing the feasibility of preserving the relationship of the child and the nonrelocating parent and the nature and quality of the relationship of the child and the nonrelocating parent and his or her family. Therefore, the parent seeking to relocate must demonstrate the ways in which the nonrelocating parent will be able to maintain his or her relationship with the child, which may include demonstrating how modern day technology can facilitate the continued relationship of the child and parent.

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