Relocation cases are taken very seriously in the state of Virginia. There are a number of important considerations that either parent should take in their relocation case.
If there is no custody order enforced, a parent may relocate with their minor as they see fit, without having to inform the court. This will not be considered parental kidnapping as the court has not assigned custody to either parent.
If a custodial caretaker is considering relocation, he/she must inform the other caretaker and the court before the move by at least 30 days. If the non-custodial caretaker disagrees, they may request that the court deny the relocation. In this situation, a judge will study the case and the terms of custody and visitation before deciding to allow or deny the relocation of the minor.
To increase the chances of winning the relocation case, a caretaker should review the case from the judge’s point of view. In this way, they can prepare for any questions asked, or proof required by the judge to help him/her come to a decision.
Factors Considered by the Court in Virginia
A parent should study the factors a judge will consider before ruling in order to rationally explain that the relocation is/isn’t in the minor’s best interest.
The factors a judge will consider to determine the minor’s best interest are:
- Age, physical and mental health of both parents.
- Age, physical and mental of the minor.
- Each parent’s relationship with the minor.
- The minor’s needs and his/her relationship with other significant people such as siblings, extended family and friends.
- The role of both parents in the nurture of the minor.
- The cooperation of both parents when resolving issues related to the minor.
- Preference of the minor.
- History of family or sexual abuse.
In Virginia, a judge will also ask the relocating caretaker to prove why the relocation is in the minor’s best interest. To increase his/her chances of winning, a caretaker should prepare a convincing argument that proves that relocation is the best option for the minor. A person may argue that if he/she is allowed to move, they will have an increased income that will help finance the minor and that he/she may have more free time to spend with the juvenile after relocation. They may also argue that the juvenile is familiar with the new community and is fond of the idea of relocating. Similarly, the non-custodial caretaker will argue why it is not in the juvenile’s best interest to move. They may argue that there is no real financial need for the move out of state of the juvenile and the custodial caretaker and that the relationship between the child and themselves will be severely affected if move out of state is granted. They can also argue that removing the child from their current residence will affect the child’s relationship with siblings, extended family and friends and that this will in-turn have a bad impact on the child’s state of mind.
In Virginia, a judge will take both arguments into consideration but will rule in what they believe is in the child’s best interest. This means that a caretaker can only work hard to show the court that they should allow/deny move out of state but cannot ensure that the court rule in his/her favour.