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Can I Transfer a Child Custody Case to Another County?

Published: Jan 29, 2018 in Child Custody

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

Child custody matters often continue for years, even decades. A matter that began when your child was an infant may need to be modified for various reasons until your son or daughter turns 18 years old, or later if they go to college. During this time, many things are going to change for you and your child. You or your child’s other parent may move to a new county within Pennsylvania, taking your child with you or them. When a significant move happens, such as from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, you and the other parent may need to consider whether your child custody matter should stay in the original county or change.

If you are interested in transferring a child custody case to a new county, or your child’s other parent is trying to move the matter despite your objections, call a Pittsburgh child custody lawyer from Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100 to schedule free case consultation.

Which County Has Jurisdiction Over a Child Custody Matters

Before determining which county has jurisdiction over a child custody matter, you need to verify that Pennsylvania is the appropriate location.

Pennsylvania has jurisdiction over a child custody matter if:

  • It is the child’s home state (where the child lives here), or was the child’s home state within six months of the commencement of the child custody matter, and though the child may now live out of state, you or the other parent continues to live in state
  • Another state does not have jurisdiction over the child or has declined jurisdiction because Pennsylvania is more appropriate
  • The child or at least one parent has a significant connection to Pennsylvania other than living there
  • A substantial amount of evidence regarding the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships is available in Pennsylvania

The specific county where you should file your child custody matter, which is also known as the venue, is the county where your child lives at the start of the legal process or where they lived six months before the start of the legal matter, and where one parent still lives. In more complicated situations, there may be other venue options you can discuss with an attorney.

Once a child custody matter has begun and the court makes a substantive decision, that court retains jurisdiction over the case. Even if you or your child moves to another area of the state or out of state, the case can stay where it began. The original court continues to make decisions.

However, when one or more parties involved moves, there may be the option to transfer the child custody case to a more appropriate venue.

When You May Ask to Transfer a Child Custody Case

A child custody matter may be transferred to a county that would have originally had jurisdiction at the beginning of the case. For instance, if the matter was first brought where your child use to live within six months of the start of the case, it may be moved to the jurisdiction where you child lived when the case was filed, if they continue to live there.

You or the other parent may also be able to move a child custody matter to a new county if you can show that the current venue is inconvenient and that the other county is more appropriate. This often occurs when the child moves with you or the other parent after the original venue made one or more decisions in the case. If none of you live in the original county, then there may be a great deal of evidence that another county is most appropriate. If you or the other parent remains in the original county, then there may be evidence that it would be more convenient to move the matter, but this not guaranteed.

Before deciding whether the current court is an inconvenient venue and the case should be moved, a judge will review a variety of factors, including:

  • The length of time the child has resided outside of the county
  • The distance between the original and potential new venue
  • The financial circumstances of the parties
  • Any agreement between the parties regarding jurisdiction
  • The nature and location of the evidence regarding the child
  • The familiarity of each court with the facts and issues of the matter

Contact Us to Transfer Your Child Custody Case

If you believe there is good reason to move the venue of your child custody matter, speak with a Pittsburgh child custody attorney at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC. We will discuss the process of filing a Motion for Change of Venue with the current court with you. We will guide you through preparing for the motion hearing, explain what you need to do on your end, and discuss the likelihood of obtaining the outcome you want.

To learn more about this process, contact us at (412) 471-5100 to schedule an appointment.