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Can a Virginia parent and child move after a custody decision?

Many Virginia residents know that child custody is one of the hardest decisions that a court has to make during a divorce. That is because the health and well-being of a child is at stake. But what happens to a custodial parent and child if their circumstances change after the divorce is final? Can a parent relocate with their child once a child custody decision has been made?

According to Virginia law, the act of relocation or moving to a different address is allowed after a couple has gotten a divorce decree. The parent who wishes to move must first give written notice to the other parent and the court of their intention to move at least one month before the move date. This written notification must include specific information, including the address to which the parent and child are moving. The address doesn't have to be included in the notice if the court tells the parent that they don't have to include it.

It's very important to make sure that the non-custodial parent receives this information, so the custodial parent should make sure that they get a receipt for the notice. Once the non-custodial parent receives the notice, he or she has the right to object to this move if he or she believes that it will affect their time and relationship with their child. The custodial and non-custodial parent will then have to go to court and present their case to a judge.

After hearing the case, the judge will make a decision based on the best interest of the child and either modify the child custody order allowing the custodial parent and child to move or enforce the original order and deny the parent's request to relocate. In cases where the custodial parent believes that they must move for their safety, they can file for temporary emergency custody in the state to which they decide to move. However, when this happens, the non-custodial parent must be notified, which may make it easier for them to locate the custodial parent and child.

Deciding to move to another state with their child can be a very important choice. Any Virginia resident who is considering taking this action may want to speak with a child custody attorney in order to fully understand the legal implications of this decision.

Source:, "Custody," Accessed Sep. 7, 2015

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