Your Ex Left Pennsylvania with Your Child | What to Do

pennsylvania child custody

Coparenting can be difficult, even when your child’s other parent lives just a few miles away. The task of raising your child gets exponentially harder when one parent wants to move out of state, not the least of which because it requires the parties to revisit the child custody arrangement. But what are you to do if your former spouse leaves Pennsylvania without your permission or that of the Family Court judge? If you are asking yourself that very question, please read on, then contact an experienced York County, PA child custody attorney to learn what you can do if your ex leaves the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with your child without permission.

Can your ex take your child out of Pennsylvania without your permission?

In the Keystone State, if there is some type of court action involving the child, such as divorce, custody or visitation, that is in process, then it may be illegal for your ex to take your child out of state, even temporarily, without permission from the judge and/or consent of the other parent, i.e. you. In order to relocate, the custodial parent must give notice of relocation and provide the other parent with the following information:

  • The new address and home phone number from the physical address
  • The mailing address, if different from the physical address
  • The names and ages of everyone who will be living at the new address
  • The child’s new school district and school
  • The proposed relocation date
  • The parent’s reasons for relocation
  • A proposed new custody and visitation schedule
  • Any other relevant information

As you can see, even the custodial parent must surmount a number of legal hurdles in order to lawfully relocate. Even so, noncustodial parents have no such privileges and may face penalties for unilaterally relocating with the child.

Is it a crime for your ex to unilaterally relocate your child outside of Pennsylvania?

It can be. According to Pennsylvania law, a noncustodial parent taking a child out of state without the permission of the custodial parent or the court may constitute parental kidnapping. This offense, also known as “interference with custody of children,” occurs when a person knowingly or recklessly takes or entices any child under the age of 18 years from the custody of their parent, guardian or another lawful custodian, when he or she has no privilege to do so. Parental kidnapping is a third-degree felony in the Commonwealth and carries a prison sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. If your ex takes your child out of state without due consent, he or she turns a civil dispute into a criminal matter.

Even though the police will most likely be involved in this matter, you would be wise to reach out to one of our skilled York County, PA family law attorneys. Our firm can also help work to prevent this from happening in the first place. Let us fight for your child’s best interests.


We understand that going through the legal system alone can be both confusing and highly stressful. That is why it is our job to help you through every step of the process ahead. For years, we have been helping clients throughout Lancaster County and its surrounding areas through a wide range of legal matters, including personal injury cases, criminal defense matters, family law issues, estate planning law matters, and more. If you need legal assistance, we are here to help. Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein today. 

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