I often get calls from people who want to move to another state and want to know if it’s ok to take their children.
Like most things in law, the answer is ‘it depends’.
In Virginia, if there is any sort of court ordered custody arrangement, you must notify the court and the other parent at least 30 days in advance of when you plan to move. Why? So the other parent has a chance to bring this up with the court before you and the child relocate. Will the court stop you from moving? It depends on the reasons for the relocation and the ties that the child has to family in his/her current location. Of course the court can not stop YOU from moving, but they may order that the child not be allowed to move with you.
What if you take the child anyway? Can the court order you to bring the child back? The answer is ‘yes’, and if you take the child against the court’s orders this is called kidnapping and it is not something that you should take lightly.
Also, the court order means you need to notify the other parent and the court prior to any move, not just a move to another state. You also need to notify the court and the other parent if you just move to another town, across town, or even just move next door.
What if you don’t have any sort of court ordered custody? In that case, either ‘legal’ parent may move and take the child with them. Which brings up the next question, who is a ‘legal’ parent?
Generally, if the woman is married at the time of birth, her husband is presumed to be the father of the child, and he will be the ‘legal’ father even if everyone knows he is not the biological father. In order to have this changed, you must go to court to get paternity established so that another man can become the ‘legal’ father.
In the case of adoption, the court can name a legal mother and/or a legal father who is not related to the child biologically.
If you are a legal parent of the child and there is no court order regarding the custody of that child, then the answer to the question about a move is ‘yes’, you can move your child to another state even if this means moving the child away from the other legal parent.
If you think this might be a problem for you, then you might want to consider getting a court order to establish a custody arrangement.
If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.