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A divorced parent’s checklist for relocation

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2024 | Family Law

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience for everyone involved, but for minor children, it can be particularly traumatic. The stress can even increase when their custodial parent wants to relocate to a new city or state.

In Virginia, the courts prioritize the best interests of the children when making decisions about custody and visitation. If you are a custodial parent planning to move, demonstrating that the relocation is in your child’s best interests is key to making the transition easier for your entire family.

Inform your co-parent

First and foremost, let your former spouse know about your intention to move and explain why you think it is best for your child. In Virginia, the law requires you to provide written notice to your ex-spouse and the court at least 30 days before the move. This notice shall include your new address and the reasons behind your decision to relocate.

Draft a consent order

If your co-parent consents, the next step is to make it official. It would be wise to work with a lawyer to draft a consent order that outlines the agreed-upon terms of the relocation, including any adjustments to visitation schedules and transportation arrangements. Once drafted, submit the consent order to the court for approval. This ensures that your relocation plan is legally binding.

Consider mediation

If your former spouse does not agree to the move, you might consider mediation to find a solution that works for everyone. In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates a conversation between you and your co-parent, helping you negotiate and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

File a motion with the court

Should mediation fail, you will need to file a motion requesting permission from the court to move. This involves presenting your case to a judge, who will consider various factors, from reasons for the relocation to its potential effects on the existing custody arrangement. Having a well-prepared case supported by documentation and legal arguments increases the chances of obtaining court approval for the relocation.

Relocation after a divorce is a major life event that can affect every aspect of your child’s life. Remember, they are leaving behind everything familiar and important to them – their friends, family, school and community. Having a clear plan can help you ensure that the transition is beneficial and positive for your entire family.