Having a custody order has many benefits. A good custody order provides each parent with a clear understanding of their custody rights and obligations and sets out a specific custody schedule designed to maximize each parent’s time with the child.
However, most of us know that nothing in life is permanent, and the same is true with custody orders. Life circumstances are likely to change at some point, and some changes may involve the relocation of one parent. There are many valid reasons that people move, such as accepting a better job offer, or taking care of a sick or elderly family member.
Parents may experience stress and uncertainty when faced with the option to relocate and having a custody order in place at the same time. The answer to the question of whether or not relocation is allowed, like the answers to many family law questions, is “it depends.”
Notifying the other parent
Virginia law makes clear that a parent may not relocate with a child without notifying the other parent and getting their permission. A 30-day notice must be given to both the other parent and the court that entered the custody order.
A gray area exists within the law when it comes to how far a move is to trigger the legal requirements for relocation, resulting in confusion. A move up the street will likely not require the legal process, while a move to another school district might. It is best to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney before any potential move for advice on how to proceed.
After notice is given
Once notice is provided, the other parent may consent or object to the move. If consent is given, the relocation is permitted. If an objection is lodged, a court will set a hearing date and hear arguments from both parents regarding if the move should be allowed.
Moving is stressful enough without adding another lawyer of complexity involving custody. Communication with the other parent and willingness to compromise will generally make the process easier.