Relocating outside of Virginia with minor children after divorce

Following a divorce, Virginia parents must generally file notice and obtain court approval in order to relocate outside of the state with a minor child.

After their divorce has been finalized, situations may arise which give people cause to consider moving outside the state of Virginia. For those with children, it may be more complicated than just packing up their possessions and loading the truck. Depending on their child custody agreements, parents may require permission from the court in order to relocate outside of the state.

State requirements

When child custody agreements exist, the state of Virginia generally requires notification that a parent intends to relocate with a minor child. Under section 20-124.5 of the Code of Virginia, a parent must do this by providing written notice to the court and the other parent. Such notice must be given at least thirty days prior to the planned move. Then, the other parent can either agree to the petition for relocation, or contest the petition.

Permission from the other parent

Perhaps the easiest way for parents to gain approval for relocation is by obtaining permission from the other parent. In these cases, the parents may work together to negotiate a modified visitation schedule. Such schedules will typically accommodate for the increased physical distance between the parents, and may include extended visits. When the other parent does not object, the court generally approves the relocation and modified custody agreement.

Objection to relocation petition

Often times, one parent will object to the request to relocate. In these situations, court proceedings are typically held to decide what is in the child's best interest. When making such determinations, the court generally applies the considerations stipulated in section 20-124.3 of the Code of Virginia. These factors include the following:

  • The child's age, mental condition and physical condition
  • The current relationship between the child and each parent
  • The needs of the child, including his or her developmental and emotional needs
  • Each parent's age, mental condition and physical condition
  • The role that each parent has played in the child's upbringing
  • Each parent's inclination toward fostering a relationship between the child and the other parent

Additionally, the court generally considers how the child will benefit from the relocation. In this, however, the child's benefits must be separate from those of the custodial parent.

Penalties for failing to give notice

Failing to give the court proper notice of any intended relocation can have serious implications for parents. Moving outside of the state without providing notice may be considered a violation of the existing custody and visitation agreement. Therefore, it may be considered a class six felony under Virginia state law.

Seek legal counsel and representation

Obtaining approval to move outside of Virginia with a minor child can be complicated. This is particularly true in cases when the parents are unable to reach a mutual agreement with regards to the relocation. It may benefit parents who are considering relocating to speak with a legal professional. Working with an attorney may help them understand their rights and options.

Keywords: Divorce, Relocating, Virginia, Court, Parent, Notice, Permission, Objection, Child, Interest, Benefits, Penalties, Agreement, Legal