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Mother’s request to move with child denied

A Blair County judge has denied a request by a Tyrone-area mother to relocate with her child to Florida because the mom did not prove to the court that her move was in the child’s best interest.

The request for judicial review of the mother’s relocation plans was brought by the father, who objected on the grounds he would not be able to spend as much time with the child as he does.

Judge Jackie Bernard held hearings in the ongoing domestic relations case and issued a new custody order noting the parents shall share legal and physical custody of the child.

The 4-year-old will continue to live with his mother.

Bernard, in a recent 26-page opinion, indicated the mother, if permitted to relocate, planned to return to Pennsylvania for visits and that she would agree the father could have custody of the child during the summer and school breaks.

The mother stated the father was welcome to come to Florida to visit the child.

“As always, our paramount concern in a case, whether it involves custody or visitation, is the best interest and permanent welfare of the child,” Bernard said.

She wrote that “a custody decree is not meant to punish a parent or anyone else. Its only purpose is to help the child.”

The judge pointed out that the child has a close relationship with a great-grandmother, a grandmother and with the father’s child in his current marriage.

“This factor weighs against relocation where (the child) would be removed a great distance from everyone, except mother.”

She noted the father, a barber, would not be able to afford regular and consistent contact with his child.

The mother and father split up when the child was 8 months old.

Despite the split, the judge found both parties support each other as parents and believe “the other is a good parent.”

“After review of all of the factors … we find that the relocation proposed by the mother has not been proven to be in the best interest of (the child),” the judge stated.

The judge said the mother has the right to relocate without the child, in which case she would lose her status as the primary caregiver.

In her order, Bernard stated no party shall relocate the child unless every individual who has custody rights consents or the court approves the move.

Altoona attorney Joel Peppetti, who represented the father, said the decision by the judge was not unexpected.

“In my experience, relocation of a young child is a pretty significant obstacle to overcome. You have to prove it will enhance the child’s life.”

He said in his many years dealing with family law, some of the most contested cases he has been involved with have involved relocation issues.

The Mirror is not using the names of the parties involved to protect the child.

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