When a parent with custody of a child wishes to move, whether that move is 50 miles away or to the other side of the country, there are several considerations which must be taken into account. Any new arrangement will make a difference to the child and the spouse who currently enjoys visitation rights. A proposed relocation often initiates a sharp conflict between the parties that must be resolved in court.
In any relocation dispute the court will only allow a move and the accompanying custodial modification to take place if it is consistent with “the best interests of the child.” This is a subjective test that involves several factors which the judge will weigh before coming to a decision. These include how the relocation will affect the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child, if the relocation will impose a drastic change on the ability of the non-custodial parent to visit, and the reasons why the parent who enjoys custody wishes to relocate. The parent who wishes to relocate has the burden of proof, and must provide evidence to satisfy each factor. The judge will also inquire into the current level of involvement of the non-custodial parent with the child. If there is little involvement, relocation is more likely to be granted.
If relocation is allowed to go ahead, the old visitation agreement may have to be altered by the court to reflect the new circumstances. For example, if a non-custodial parent formerly lived across town from his or her child, and had visitation rights every other weekend, a distant relocation could make this agreement nearly impossible. In this case the court may alter the arrangement, and could eliminate visitation every other weekend but allow the child to stay with the non-custodial parent for several months during the summer. In addition, courts have the discretion to force the relocating parent to pay for any travel expenses incurred during the visitation of the non-custodial parent.
If you wish to relocate with your child, your former spouse may take you to court to prevent the move. Conversely, if you do not have physical custody of your child, and the custodial parent is planning a move, you may wish to prevent it. Either situation demands an experienced family law lawyer. The attorneys of DiPietro Family Law Group are ready to help all those in the Northern Virginia area with issues relating to child custody. Contact them today by calling (888) 530-4374 to schedule a consultation.