As is often the case with legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” The determination of child custody is often one of the most acrimonious and difficult in a divorce or separation case. Often, a child may reside primarily with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. In other cases, parents share physical custody of a child for predetermined periods of time. In our modern society, moving to a new city or even across is country has become common, but these moves obviously have significant implications when it comes to court ordered child custody arrangements. When a custody arrangement exists, the parent who wishes to relocate a child must first obtain the permission of a court with jurisdiction over their custody case. Because of the complicated legal issues that often arise in these cases, anyone who wishes to relocate or to stop the other parent from relocating with a child should discuss their situation with a Virginia child custody lawyer as soon as possible.
What is the Standard for Relocating a Child in Virginia?
A common theme in determining child custody arrangements is determining what type of arrangement would be in the best interest of the child. Cases regarding child relocation are no exception. In determining if a move is in the best interests of the child, a court will consider several factors, including the following:
- The effect the move will have of the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
- How much the proposed move would affect the non-custodial parent’s visitation with the child
- The reasons that the custodial parent wants to move, including proximity to other family members, opportunities for employment, and the economic stability of the parent
In addition, the court will consider the level of involvement the non-custodial parent has with the child. If there is little or no involvement, the court will likely conclude that the move will have little effect on the non-custodial parent’s relationship, and is therefore more likely to allow the move.
Contact a Virginia child custody lawyer today
If you are involved in a child relocation issue or any other matter regarding child custody, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with attorney Raymond B. Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410.
In many situations, custody and visitation arrangements work well for both parents and the child for some time. Even if you are the non-custodial parent, you likely have visitation rights and have the opportunity to see your child and cultivate a continuing parent-child relationship.
However, one of the biggest disruptions of an existing custody agreement occurs when the custodial parent decides to move away. There are many reasons why a parent may wish to move with their child, such as a new job opportunity, a new relationship, or simply to be in closer proximity to other family ties. Though the custodial parent may have very valid reasons for wanting to move, you still have very valid reasons for wanting to remain close to your child. Therefore, if you are facing possible relocation of your child, you should contact an experienced family law attorney for assisting in standing up for your parental rights.
How does the court decide?
Though a parent may have a very good reason for relocating, the Virginia courts do not examine the situation in light of the parent’s interests. Instead, the court uses the same criteria in making relocation decisions as it does in making custody determinations—what is in the best interest of the child?
Once you object to the relocation, the other parent will have to demonstrate why the move would be the best thing for the child. The court will weigh several factors against each other, including the following:
- The custodial parent’s reasons for moving
- Whether the move will improve certain aspects of the child’s life
- How the move will affect the child’s relationship with you
- How the move will affect the visitation arrangement with you
Sometimes, even if the move will provide a better financial situation for the child, the court may decide that your continued relationship is truly in the best interests of the child and will not allow the relocation. In the event a relocation is allowed, you will also need to redesign the visitation arrangement to make sure you are still able to have a quality relationship with your child.
The experienced family lawyers at the Law Office of Raymond B. Benzinger know how to handle relocation cases in Virginia courts. To schedule a free consultation with attorney Raymond Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410 for help.