Divorce is a time of difficult endings, but it can also be a time of new beginnings. Wanting to make some major changes in your life to maximize the benefit of your recent divorce is a common impulse.
Now that you officially dissolved your marriage, finding a new place to live, strengthening your friendships, advancing your career or reconnecting with your family may all be top priorities.
Especially if you didn’t originally live in Virginia before your marriage, moving out of state may seem like the best setting as you try to rebuild your life post-divorce. Can you leave the state if you share custody of your children with your ex?
You have to notify the other parent and the courts about your plans to move
If you intend to relocate outside of the geographic distance included in your custody order or parenting plan, you will have to notify the family courts and your ex about your intention to move at least 30 days ahead of time.
Your ex will then have the opportunity to respond in writing if they oppose the idea of you relocating with the children. If they agree to it, you may be able to make modified custody arrangements, like your ex taking the children for a month every summer and half of Christmas break every winter. If your ex refuses to work with you, you may have to have a hearing with the courts about your plan to move.
You need justification for moving away from the other parent
The family courts in Virginia try to make custody decisions based solely on what is best for the children. They expect that you will do the same. When it comes to a relocation, the courts may worry about the impact on the other parent-child relationship, which could have negative repercussions for the child.
Showing that you will have more support, more economic opportunity or more resources available to you after the move can help convince the court that permitting the move will be in the best interests of the children.
Your ex will also be able to make a case, which is why it’s important that you avoid discussing the move in a threatening manner or treat it as a way to cut them off from their children. Statements implying either of those intentions could hurt your case in court. Getting help to argue for the necessity of a relocation can improve your chances of a favorable outcome.