If I have full custody of my daughters and want to move about 3 hours from my current location, is that legal?

Asked on January 11, 2013 under Family Law, Virginia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I assume that there is a legal custody order in place. If so, a court must grant permission for such a relocation. A move without such permission means that you can be held in contempt of a court and charged with parental kidnapping.

The burden will be on you to prove that a move is in the "best interests" of your children.There are numerous factors the court must consider in determining whether removal is appropriate. They include, but are not limited, to:

• Why the relocating parent wants to move (a parent who wishes to relocate because of a job, new spouse or to care for a sick relative will have a stronger case than a parent who simply wants to move away from the non-custodial parent);
• The motivation of the parent opposing the move;
• The advantages of relocation in improving the life of the children;
• Any disadvantages of relocation on the children;
• The likelihood that the parent desiring the move will comply with visitation orders after the relocation and the realisitc liklihood the non-relocating parent can arrange visitation with the children (the closer the relocation to the current location the better; such a move will be looked at more favorably than a long-distance relocation).
• A chance for the children to bond with extended family members.

At this point, you may want to  seek a consultation with an attorney in your area.

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