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Can I Relocate with My Child?

After going through a child custody case in Northern Virginia in which parents ultimately share custody of the child, a life event might arise that means one of the parents wants to move to another city or another state. When that parent shares custody of the minor child, that parent will need to learn more about whether relocation is possible. For example, if the parent is offered a new job in New York, or a parent learns that an elderly family member is in poor health and needs daily care, it could be necessary for that parent to consider a long-distance move. Yet a relocation will typically require a modification of your child custody order, which means you will need to ask a judge for a modification. The following are some key things to consider when it comes to relocation and child custody in Virginia.

Determine Whether You Need to Modify Child Custody Based on Your Planned Move

If you are moving only a short distance away into a new home, and the move will not disrupt the terms of your existing child custody order (Code of Va. § 20-124.2), it may not be necessary to seek a modification. You should talk with an experienced Virginia child custody lawyer to determine whether your planned move actually constitutes a relocation under the law, and whether you need to petition for a modification of your child custody order.

You Must Provide Notification of Relocation

If you are planning to relocate—and the relocation will require a modification of your existing child custody plan—you are required under Virginia law (Code of Va. § 20-124.5) to give notification of relocation. The statute specifically states that in proceedings involving custody or visitation, the court must include a requirement that thirty days’ advance written notice to be given to the court and the other party by any party who intends to relocate and of any intended change of address unless the court orders otherwise.

To be clear, whether you are moving to a new house in the same neighborhood or planning a relocation, you must give 30 days’ written notice to the court and to the other parent. Otherwise, you can be in violation of your existing child custody order.

You Will Need to Seek a Modification of Your Child Custody Order to Relocate

Once you have given proper notice of your plans to relocate, you will need to seek a revision of your existing child custody order under Virginia law (Code of Va. § 20-108). In order for the court to modify your child custody order, you will need to show first that there has been a “material change of circumstances justifying a change of custody” according to the statute. The need to move for a new job or to care for an aging loved one may constitute a material change in circumstances, along with other kinds of life changes.

Once you have shown that there has been a material change in circumstances, you will need to be able to prove that modifying child custody so that your child relocates with you is in your child’s best interest. You should have an experienced Virginia child custody attorney on your side throughout this process.

Seek Advice from a Virginia Child Custody Lawyer

Do you have questions or concerns about relocation with your child? You should seek advice from one of our Virginia child custody attorneys. We can examine the facts of your case and help you to provide appropriate written notice of your planned move, as well as to determine whether you need to seek a modification of your child custody order from the court. From start to finish, we can represent you in your relocation case. Contact Family Law Grouptoday for more information.