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Child custody, visitation and parental relocation

People in our society are more mobile than ever before. For many, packing up and moving to a new city or state is merely a matter of coming up with the money to relocate. For divorced parents, though, a move can trigger legal issues that, if not settled amongst the parties, may have to be dealt with in court.

Under Virginia law, a custodial parent must provide at least 30 days’ notice to the court and the noncustodial parent before moving with the child. This provides the noncustodial parent the opportunity to object to the move by filing for a modification of custody. If this occurs, then the custodial parent might have to show that the move will not damage the relationship between the child and his or her noncustodial parent. This can be a tricky situation to address for noncustodial parents. If that parent’s relationship with the child is small or underdeveloped, then the court may determine that the move has little to no effect on the relationship. On the other hand, a court may have the same position when there is a strong relationship, finding that the move will not be significant enough to damage such a strong bond.

Of course, when looking at these matters the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests. There are a number of factors that may be taken into consideration, including the financial situation of the custodial parent and how the proposed move will improve it, the amount of contact that will be maintained between the child and the noncustodial parent and the social and academic advantages gained by the move.

Because there are so many factors to consider, these matters are often open for robust legal argument. Regardless of which side a parent falls on, custodial or noncustodial, there is often a lot on the line when this issue arises. This is why it is usually beneficial to have an aggressive family law attorney by one’s side to help craft and present persuasive legal arguments.