Relocating Minor Children Outside of Virginia


You receive a call from your ex-wife. She notifies you that she is moving to California to work for a hot-new tech company. The salary is robust and she’s always wanted to live in California. Then she tells you that she plans to take your son with her. Let’s take a look at the issue of relocating minor children outside of Virginia.

If a child custody agreement exists, then the parent who wants to relocate the child outside the state of Virginia is required to notify the other parent. Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-124.5, the parent intending to move must provide written notice to the court and the other parent. The written notice must be provided at least thirty (30) days prior to the planned move. Parents can agree to the move or object to the move.

If the other parent does not agree with the planned move, then they should consult with a highly skilled family law attorney. An attorney will file the necessary paperwork with the court to object to the planned relocation. A hearing will take place and the court will decide if the relocation should occur.

Two prongs must be satisfied to grant relocation. First, relocation must be in the best interests of the child based upon the factors listed in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3.

Those factors are as follows:

1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs;

2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;

3. The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child’s life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child;

4. The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members;

5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child;

6. The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;

7. The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child;

8. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference;

9. Any history of family abuse as that term is defined in Virginia Code Section 16.1-228 or sexual abuse. If the court finds such a history, the court may disregard the factors in subdivision 6; and

10. Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

Second, relocation of the child to another state by the custodial parent must not substantially impair the beneficial relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent.

Obtaining court approval to relocate outside the state of Virginia with a minor child is a complicated procedure if the other parent objects to the move. If you are involved in a relocation case, then you should contact a highly skilled family law attorney.

Written By Ben Hamlet.

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