Custody, Visitation and Relocation in Northern Virginia

The Basics: Co-Parenting After Divorce in Northern Virginia

Unfortunately, many marriages result in divorce. The reasons that a husband and wife are incompatible can be simple or complex, few or many. Unsurprisingly, complexity of the divorce proceedings usually correlates directly with the number and size of your assets, how long you have been married and whether or not you have children. “Fault grounds” for divorce, which in Virginia are adultery, desertion, cruelty and felony conviction coupled with incarceration for a year or more, add another layer of complexity and are a variable with regard to additional complications. Litigation is sometimes necessary to settle differences in divorce cases, but sometimes traditional negotiation between attorneys, or alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, can be very effective. Divorce is a final, separating event between a couple, but what many do not realize is that despite the end of the husband-wife relationship, the parties will remain co-parents of their children forever.

son on his father's shoulders

Negotiations and Judicial Determinations of Custody and Visitation

Custody and visitation arrangements can be agreed-upon by parents in a settlement, or ordered by a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court or a Circuit Court in Northern Virginia. The two courts actually have concurrent jurisdiction over custody disputes. Regardless of whether your original order was the result of a negotiation or a judicial determination of what is in the best interests of your child, it may be subject to modification in the future. Parental relocation is an instance when you may find yourself in a post-divorce custody modification or modification of a visitation schedule.

Parental Relocation in Northern Virginia

Parental relocation is one of the most difficult issues to deal with after your divorce is complete. It can become an issue after a custody order is in place whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, or sometimes before there is an order at all. Relocation is a serious issue and obtaining consent of the other parent or permission from a court is usually required. In Virginia, once a custody order is in place, you could be charged with parental kidnapping if you move across state lines with your child without permission.

Applicable Law to Relocation Cases in Northern Virginia

The law that applies to relocation cases in Northern Virginia is very similar to the law that applies to standard custody and visitation cases. The best interests of the children are paramount, and any judge hearing your case will make a determination based on what he or she believes to be in their best interests. The Virginia Code provides specific guidance for judges when making these determinations. The burden is usually on the parent who wants to move with the children that it is in their best interests to move to the new home. It is a difficult burden to meet, especially if the potentially left-behind parent chooses to contest the case.

Consult With A Northern Virginia Family Law Attorney Early

Relocation cases are difficult, but not impossible. Like most other family law issues in Northern Virginia, they are best handled with an experienced family law attorney. Navigating the negotiation process and the courts in Northern Virginia custody and relocation cases is just as difficult, if not more, than a divorce case or initial custody determination. If you intend to move with or without your children, your existing custody and visitation arrangement will likely be affected. Consulting with a family law attorney in Northern Virginia early in the process will set you up for the best possible outcome.

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