Michael Bertin Discusses a Recent International Relocation Custody Case in The Legal Intelligencer

October 17, 2023

In an article published in The Legal Intelligencer on October 16, 2023, partner and co-chair of the family law group, Michael Bertin, discusses a recent relocation custody case, involving the one parent’s request to move the child from where the child resides with the other parent to that parent’s residence. In his article, titled “Order Awarding Custody of Child in Germany Examined by Superior Court,” Michael analyzed the Pennsylvania Superior Court case of White v. Malecki, 296 A.3d 1210 (Pa. Super. 2023), which addressed a child relocation at a significant distance.

In the White case, the parties moved to Germany with their child, the child’s two half-siblings, and the paternal grandmother. Shortly after arriving in Germany, the mother became ill and was transferred to a hospital in the United States to continue her treatment. Approximately eight months later she returned to Germany but the parties’ relationship deteriorated and the mother desired to return to the United States as she was dissatisfied with the level of care that she was receiving in Germany.

The mother, the child, and the maternal half-sibling moved back to the United States. The father, the paternal half-sibling, and the paternal grandmother remained in Germany. 

The father petitioned for primary custody and filed a notice of proposed relocation. The trial court granted the father primary physical custody and permitted the father to have custody of the child in Germany. The mother filed a timely appeal objecting to the trial court’s granting of the father primary physical custody in Germany and “essentially granted the father sole physical custody by requiring the mother to pay the costs of transportation.” The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s custody decision but vacated the portion of the order related to the payment of the costs of transportation. 

The White case is an important case for the practitioner and the bench. The case reiterates that trial courts must analyze the relevant relocation factors even when the parents are not moving but the child will move a significant distance. 

Read the full article here.