Sometimes, divorced parents decide to move out of state to pursue new career opportunities or marriages. While custodial parents with minor children aren’t prevented from relocating outside the Commonwealth of Virginia, doing so can cause complications for the non-custodial parent, affecting their visitation schedule and the costs associated with visitation.
If you share a child with someone else and decide to relocate outside of Virginia after a divorce, you’ll have to provide the court and your child’s other parent with advance notice, even if you have full custody. The non-custodial parent will have an opportunity to contest the relocation if they don’t agree with it. Let’s look at the basics of moving out of state for custodial parents.
Requesting a Relocation
Virginia Code § 20-124.5 states that parents must notify the court of their intent to relocate at least 30 days before moving. They must also inform the child’s other parent. If your child’s other parent disapproves of the relocation request, they can ask the court to deny it. In that case, you’ll need to get the court’s approval before you move. If you believe that the non-custodial parent will challenge the move, then you should be ready to defend your reasons for relocating.
Before you can get court approval for a relocation, you’ll need to be able to show that the move is in your child’s best interests. For your request to be successful, you might need to show evidence or bring in witnesses who can help you demonstrate to the judge that your reasons for moving are genuine, beneficial, and don’t harm your child’s interests.
To determine whether relocation is in your child’s best interests, the court will examine numerous factors, which are outlined in Virginia Code § 20-124.3. These factors include:
- Your child’s age and the age of each parent
- Your child’s physical and mental condition, as well as the physical and mental condition of each parent
- The relationship between each parent and the child and each parent’s level of involvement in the child’s life
- Each parent’s ability to recognize and meet the child’s emotional, intellectual, and physical needs
- The child’s other important relationships, including relationships with siblings, friends, and extended family members
- The role of each parent in the child’s upbringing and the role they will play in the future
- Each parent’s ability to ensure the child gets to continue a relationship with the other parent, including whether either parent has tried to prevent the other from accessing or spending time with the child
- Each parent’s ability to maintain a close and ongoing relationship with the child
- Each parent’s ability to cooperate with the other and resolve disagreements
- The child’s preference if the court thinks the child is mature enough to express it
- Any history of violence, child abuse, family abuse, or sexual abuse
- Other factors the court deems important
If the court grants your request, you may have to modify your existing visitation schedule with your former partner, so they don’t end up with decreased visitation time. The non-custodial parent will probably be granted less frequent but longer visitation periods, so that parenting time isn’t significantly impacted by the relocation, and both parents can keep travel costs down.
For instance, the court might modify your visitation schedule to give the non-custodial parent a lengthier visitation period over the summer and during the winter holidays when your child isn’t in school. This ensures that the non-custodial parent can maintain a relationship with your child after the move.
Contact a Virginia Beach Family Law Attorney
Relocating outside of the Commonwealth with a minor child can be complex. If your child’s other parent opposes the move, the experienced Virginia Beach family law attorney at Hardt Law P.L.L.C. can help you present a compelling argument for relocation. Our attorney can also assist you with modifying your current visitation schedule if necessary. Contact us online or call us at (757) 962-5588 to schedule a confidential consultation.