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Family Law & Divorce Attorneys in Virginia

How Does Relocation Affect Child Custody?

Experienced Virginia Attorneys

For divorced couples with children, relocations are among some of the most challenging situations they might face. Unfortunately, for economic or personal reasons, moving is sometimes a necessity and inevitably impact the custody and visitation schedule, presenting both parents with quite a predicament. If you are deciding to move, or your co-parent is considering relocation, here is what you need to know about the impact it could have on your child custody agreement.

The Court’s Role

A parent, particularly the custodial parent, cannot just decide to move away with the children. A court will examine the move away order and base its decision on whether or not to grant it on a variety of factors. The court’s primary concern is, of course, the best interests of the children.

To determine whether or not a parent’s move would not serve the children’s best interests or welfare, a court will consider:

  • The age of the children
  • The depth of their ties to the community
  • The children’s relationships with both parents
  • The impact of the proposed relocation on the well-being of the children and overall quality of life
  • Hardships for the non-relocating parent in being able to carry out his or her rights under the shared custody and visitation arrangements
  • Any special health or educational needs
  • The preferences of the children

While a child’s preferences are not going to be a decisive factor in a case, it is sometimes taken into consideration. If the court concludes that a move would be harmful to the children, this could justify a modification of the custody order.

The Impact on Child Custody

It is an inevitable reality that, if a court grants a move away order, it will absolutely affect a parenting plan. However, that does not mean the situation will be impossible to work with. Instead, it will require a little creativity and willingness to work with one another. Instead of having dinner with your children a few times a week and rotating weekends, you might end up alternating seasons. The non-custodial parent might end up with a larger share of holidays and vacations to make up for the lack of regular contact you would get during school weeks. It might not sound like an ideal situation, but a skilled child custody attorney can help ensure you end up with an agreement that adequately makes up for the hardship you will face as a result of the other parent’s relocation.

Steps to Take if You Decide to Move

If you are the relocating parent, you should consider some of the following suggestions:

  • What are your motives for moving? Take an honest look at your reasons for wanting to relocate since the court will not look favorably on you if it seems your intention is to simply interfere with your co-parent’s visitation rights.
  • Examine your current child custody order to see whether or not the move would make the current parenting schedule impossible.
  • Make an effort to prepare or brainstorm a plan that would allow your co-parent to maintain contact with his or her children. You could offer more substantial visitation during the summer break.
  • Try to give your co-parent as much notice as possible in regards to your move. In fact, this is even required in many states.

Fairfax Child Relocation Attorneys

Our society is increasingly mobile and it has become even more common for parents and families to relocate for a number of reasons. At Malinowski Hubbard, PLLC, our Fairfax family law attorneys have experience representing both relocating parents and non-relocating parents. These types of cases tend to be highly contested and difficult to resolve. Our legal team is able to effectively navigate such matters and provide clients with practical solutions. From filing notices of relocation and creating new custody plans to disputing relocation requests, we can provide counsel for either side of a relocation case.

To speak with a skilled legal member of our team, call us today at (703) 935-4222 and schedule a consultation.