Parental relocation guidelines in Virginia

Part of moving on from a divorce may include pursuing opportunities to move away from Virginia. One might want to relocate to another state to pursue new career opportunities (or simply to be closer to extended family members). Yet when they have children with their ex-spouse, relocation becomes a complicated issue.

This does not necessarily mean that local family courts may bar a divorcee from moving; rather, the question becomes to what extent their relocation may impact their child custody agreement.

Making the decision to move

Concerns of one parent moving away following their divorce are valid; information shared by Moving.com, over 10% of the American population moved in 2019, with a change in marital status ranking among the 10 most common reasons people cited as their reason to relocate. Court officials realize this, yet it does not mean that they view a divorce alone as a justified reason to move away (and to the take their kids with them). Thus, the following factors may come into play when considering the issue of parental relocation:

  • The reason for the proposed relocation
  • Whether the relocation might serve the kids’ best interests
  • The presence the non-relocating parent has in the kids’ lives

Providing notification of a pending relocation

In any matter regarding a proposed relocation, the relocating parent must make all parties involved with their child custody agreement aware of their intentions. Section 20-124.5 of the Code of Virginia requires that one in such a position provide those parties with notice of a pending relocation at least 30 days prior to the move. Part of that notification should include a revised custody arrangement (which maintains the non-relocating parent’s relationship with the kids). The court may take a failure to give such notice into account when determining how to adjust an agreement to accommodate a relocation.