How the Courts Proceed in a Child Custody Matter When a Civilian Parent Wishes to Relocate Outside of Virginia
This is the next post in my series discussing special issues which frequently arise during Virginia divorces involving military members. My last post explained special issues regarding child support payments that military members should be aware of. In this article I will explain how the Court proceeds when a civilian parent wishes to relocate a child outside of Virginia following a divorce.
Civilian parents often wish to relocate children outside of Virginia to a state in which they have more families ties and support
Child custody relocation requests are a common part of divorce cases involving military members. When a military member is stationed in Virginia then the family often does not have local ties and has relocated from another part of the country. When a divorce occurs it is not uncommon for the civilian parent to request to move, with the children, back to their home state to be closer to friends and family. This frequently causes a great deal of stress and disagreement amongst all parties and can lead to a contentious Court battle.
The decision the Court will make regarding a relocation question depends on several factors. One, it will depend on which parent is given primary custody. If the civilian parent is given primary custody then they must still prove to the Court that relocating outside of the state is in the child’s best interest. They must prove that they have employment opportunities, improved educational opportunities, access to close family members, and other positive influences that will benefit the child. The custodial parent must also demonstrate a commitment to supporting the child’s relationship with the military parent and a willingness to arrange visitation when the military member is not deployed. If the military member objects to the move it is the burden of the relocating parent to convince the Court that the move is in the child’s best interest.
Virginia Courts will be willing to reevaluate the custodial arrangement once a parent has been discharged from the military
If the civilian parent is allowed to relocate during the period a military member is actively serving duty then the Court with jurisdiction will often consider a post-deployment modification later on down the line. Court’s are frequently sympathetic to a military parent’s struggles and will often agree to modifications that give the military parent a greater percentage of custody once they have the time available to spend with their children. If this type of agreement can be made during the divorce negotiations then it can often avoid contentious hearings in the future. Discuss with your attorney the possibility of negotiating the allowance of letting the child move outside of Virginia in the present with the understanding that the military parent wishes to share joint custody once they have been discharged.
Child relocations can be difficult for military members, but a skilled family law attorney can often find creative solutions that work for everyone. Call our Virginia Beach office today for a consultation. We also service Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York, and James City.