By Melannie Dino
Now that you know that you and your partner are separating and moving towards getting divorced, you may want to move out of the state to be closer to family or to take a higher paying job or just simply to start fresh. You may ask yourself; can I legally move with my child?
Parents have an inherent constitutional right to raise their children. Generally, you and your spouse are both free to travel with your children and to exercise time with your children. However, once a court order is in place establishing when each parent has custodial time with the children, that order will govern what you can and cannot do. For example, If the order provides for a parent to have alternate weekends with the child, the other parent would not be able to move somewhere that would prevent that time from taking place or move somewhere that will cause an undue burden on the child or the other parent to exercise that time.
In determining whether to permit a relocation, the Court will look at what is best for your child. The burden is on the parent who wants to relocate to show that the move is in the child’s best interest and that the move will not significantly negatively impact the other parent’s relationship with the child. Stockdale v. Stockdale, 33 VA App. 179. The Court can consider a benefit to the moving parent only if the move also independently benefits the child. Cloutier v. Queen, 35 VA App 413. Taking a higher paying job out of state may not be enough to prove the move is in your child’s best interest.
Courts generally tend to disfavor relocation of the child if it will negatively impact the relationship of the child with the non-moving parent. If you are contemplating a move, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law attorney and discuss your options.
Steven Krieger Law, PLLC has experienced family law attorneys that can assist you with your custody matters, so please feel free to contact us if we may be helpful.