Virginia Custody Laws Moving Out of State – Can I Leave State of Virginia with my Child?


My name is Stephen Jones, and I am an associate attorney here at Holcomb Law. Relocation custody cases are not uncommon. A parent’s decision to relocate can be for any number of reasons, but essentially you find yourself on one or two sides. Either you are the parent who wants to relocate and take the child, or you are the parent remaining in Virginia who does not want the child to go. Here at Holcomb Law, we are here to help a parent on either side of this dilemma.

The first thing you should do is file to amend or modify your current custody order with the court. No matter which parent you are in this situation, unless you and the other parent agreed that the child should move or stay, you will need court intervention. The court then must decide what is in the child’s best interest. To stay or to go. Just because the move is beneficial to the moving parent does not mean it is beneficial to the child. On the other hand, just because you oppose the move does not mean the child will be prevented from moving.

If you are the parent looking to move, do not simply leave the state without having asked the court to modify the order. You could risk the court ordering the child be returned to Virginia, and it could negatively impact your chances in court. On the other hand, you should not wait too long to file asking the court to order the child remain in Virginia. You could risk the court finding that a move that has already occurred benefits the child, and you can end up with less time with your child due to your inactivity.

Does this mean you cannot take your child on a vacation? No. Vacations are allowed because they are temporary in nature. However, any move that could impact the non-moving parent’s tie with the child must be approved by the court. Long distance parenting plans can be difficult, but not impossible. Technology helps, but it is not a substitute for in-person contact and visitation. If a court orders that a child can relocate, the non-moving parent is often awarded longer periods of visitation, typically during summer.

Good co-parenting can often avoid these situations, as good communication is always the foundation of [inaudible 00:02:19] sound decisions. Whether a move is ordered or not, both parents should work hard with the other to make things as easy for the child as possible. If you are planning on moving out of Virginia or you want to prevent a child from moving, I encourage you to contact Holcomb Law today to schedule your no-hassle legal strategy meeting, and to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys.