Obligations of Custodial Parents in Virginia: Relocation of Minor Child
Your custody arrangement for your minor child includes details about day-to-day decisions and visitation rights of the non-custodial parent, but it may not be so clear on what happens if you need to move. The fact that you have custody in Virginia does not mean you can relocate at will, and your child’s other parent does have certain rights if you need to change addresses.
Notification of Relocation:
In any matter involving the custody of a child, Virginia courts will require that the custodial parent file a Notification of Relocation at least 30 days in advance. The notice must be delivered to the court and the non-custodial parent. If your child’s other parent decides to contest the relocation, there may be a hearing in court to determine whether moving the child is appropriate under the circumstances.
Factors in Granting Relocation:
There is no one test for courts to use when deciding relocation cases, but there is a standard that judges use to determine whether moving a minor child is appropriate. If the best interests of the child are properly served by the court allowing the move, the request will most likely be granted. Courts will look at such factors as:
- How relocation will impact the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent;
- The reasons that the custodial parent would like to move, including employment, contact with other family members, and cost of living; and,
- The effect of the move upon the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.
You should bear in mind that the parent seeking to move the minor child has the burden of proving that relocation is in his or her best interests. In addition, the court will look at the level involvement of the child’s other parent. For example, a non-custodial parent that communicates rarely with the child may have a minimal impact on whether the court allows the relocation.
Adjustments to Visitation:
If the court grants your request to relocate, a judge may also make changes to the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent. As the custodial parent, you may need to make travel arrangements for your child for visitation according to court order.
Help is a Phone Call Away
There are times when changing circumstances also mean change of address, but you do have certain obligations in Virginia as a custodial parent of a minor child. The lawyers at Shannon & Bedois, P.C. can help you with notification requirements and obtaining the proper court permission to relocate. Contact or call us at (757) 228-5529 for more information.