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Child Custody and Relocating - Can I Move?

Posted by Evelyn Mitchell | Feb 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

RELOCATION and MOVING When You Have Joint or Shared Custody of Your Child in Virginia

The court can't keep me here, right? 

It most certainly can.  We routinely see cases where a job brings a family to the area, the family breaks up, and the party seeking to return to their “home” is not able to move because the other parent likes the area and wants to stay. 

So, how do you win a relocation case? 

There is no magical formula that is going to guarantee you the result you want. 

In Virginia, the court is going to apply the “best interest of the child factors” listed under Virginia Code Section 20-124.3, and try to determine what purpose the move serves. 

Winning a relocation case means intensive planning. 

If you are the person seeking to move, you need to be prepared to show why the move will benefit the child (noting that the court may not be persuaded by the argument that a larger paycheck will automatically benefit the child). 

WHY THE MOVE WILL BENEFIT THE CHILD:

What new opportunities will the child have? 

What plan do you have for maintaining the contacts that the child has already developed? 

Do you have the financial means to enable frequent visits?

Would moving cause significantly less contact with the non-moving parent?

Are you moving to an area with more family connects and support?

What family connections and support would your child loose if you moved?   

Defeating a relocation case can be tricky when the person is not seeking to move prohibitively far away.  Everyone in this area knows that 60 miles on a map does not mean 60 minutes in a car.  Preparing these cases can depend heavily on the work schedules of the parties, the contacts that the child has with his or her current home, the quality of the schools, and the relationship that the child has with his or her environs. 

Best Interests of The Child

Ultimately, the Court will take into consideration virtually every aspect of your child's life and how the move with effect your child both positively and negatively to determine if allowing the move would be in your child's best interest. Every situation is different so it is hard to predict exactly what a judge will and wont find persuasive. Because of this it is important to go to court with an attorney experienced in handling these types of cases. 

RESOURCES:

Virginia Custody and Visitation

Washington, DC Custody and Visitation

About the Author

Evelyn Mitchell

Evelyn Mitchell is an experienced trial attorney who has taken on difficult criminal and family law matters in Virginia and the District of Columbia.  She has received several awards, including Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Law from The National Trial Lawyers, and Top 10 Under 40 from the Nation...

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