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What if I need to move after a child custody order?

Like other states, Virginia has a rule that requires parents who are subject to custody and parenting time orders to let each other know if they plan to move.

Specifically, the law of this state requires that any parent who wants to move for any reason, whether they have custody or simply exercise parenting time, must give the other parent 30 days of advance notice. The notice must be in writing.

Courts do have some leeway to alter this rule. For instance, if a parent has a good reason not to provide advance notice, the parent can obtain a court order to that effect. A good example of this is where the other parent has been credibly accused of abuse, and the parent wanting to move is trying to protect herself or his child.

Also, courts can modify exactly how much notice each parent has to give and can tailor it to the circumstances. For instance, for a local move down the street, a simple letter or note with the new address may suffice.

It’s important for parents to realize, though, that in Virginia, there’s no special custody process when it comes to relocations.

After receiving notice, if a parent feels that the move warrants a change in the parenting plan, that parent will need to file a petition with the court asking for a new court order, unless of course both parents agree in writing on how to deal with the move.

The parent wanting the change will first of all have to convince the judge that the move is indeed a material change in circumstances.

To give extreme examples, a move to the house next door is probably not a material change since it will probably not impact custody or parenting time.  On the other hand, a move to the other side of the country would likely be a material change.

Once the court determines there is a material change, then the court will decide whether the move is in the child’s best interest.