Parental Relocation: Moving Out of Town When a Child Custody Order is in Place

by James Garrett on October 7, 2013

Moving-with-Children-300x199After a divorce, it is often the case that at least one parent will think about moving out of town. When children are involved, however, one parent cannot just relocate to a new place on a whim, whenever and wherever he or she chooses. Under Virginia family law, specific provisions are in place to ensure that the other parent gets a fair chance to weigh in on the relocation. A violation of the laws, and a violation of the order of child custody and visitation, can result in penalties and other consequences. It is therefore important for Virginia parents to understand the basics of parental relocation when the children are subject to a child custody order.

Parental Relocation Laws in Virginia

Before a parent may relocate with a child or children, he or she must give the other parent and the court notice of the move. The notification laws are established under 20-124.5 of the Code of Virginia. Under that law, in any proceeding involving child custody or visitation, a parent planning to relocate a child must give 30 days’ advance written notice to the court and the other party. The same goes for any change of address, unless the court orders differently based on a showing of good cause by the parent intending to relocate.

After the relocating parent gives notice to the court and the other parent, he or she may not be able to just automatically move after 30 days. In some cases, the non-relocating parent may agree to the relocation, and can sign a court order modifying the existing child custody and visitation order. However, if the non-relocating parent wishes to fight the relocation of the child, he or she may bring the matter before the court for its review at a hearing. The court will weigh many factors to determine whether the relocation is appropriate so that the order of custody and visitation shall be modified. It is not an easy process, and can take time to reach a resolution. It is important to note that parental relocation may also affect the order of child support.

Parental Relocation Issues in Military Divorces

Active service members may have even more hurdles to tackle when it comes to parental relocations. Often times service member parents are restricted to stay at one location, such as on the bases where they are stationed. This can significantly impact the amount of time that a military parent has with a child that has relocated. Furthermore, in some cases, an active service member may be forced to change his or her station. If the child custody and visitation orders do not include provisions relating to military relocation of a parent, the service member parent will need to act quickly or else risk facing the consequences of breaching the orders of custody and visitation.

One safeguard for military parents is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. In the case that a child custody issues arises when a service member parent is called into active duty, the Act stays court and administrative proceedings. This means that if the military parent’s military service materially affects his or her ability to proceed in the child custody or relocation case, the proceedings may be postponed until he or she is able to continue with the proceedings.

Parental relocation is a very complex issue, and often times a lot is at stake for both parents. If you are thinking of relocating with your children and you are subject to an order of child custody and visitation, you should immediately seek out an experienced attorney. Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.

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