In Virginia, there are no parental kidnapping laws in place. If you and the other parent of your child have decided to split up, you are completely free to leave the state with your child.
However, Virginia will still be considered your primary residence until you have been in the new state for the allotted amount of time it takes to establish residency. This means if the other parent doesn’t agree with the move, they can file a petition for custody and legally force you and your child to move back to Virginia.
The Basics of Relocation
If you and your former partner begin the child custody process, you will need to demonstrate why either home would be better for the child. A court will always rule in favor of what is in a child’s best interest.
Best interest factors generally include:
- a child’s age
- a child’s physical and mental condition
- the relationship of each parent with the child
- the child’s needs
- the role each parent has played and will play in the upbringing of the child
- each parent’s willingness to maintain a close relationship with the child
- the child’s preference
- any history of abuse
- any other factors a court believes to be important
Ultimately, if the court does not agree with the proposed relocation of the child, the parent keeping the child out of state must bring them back. The parent who lives in Virginia will become the primary custodial parent and the child will live with them for the majority of the time. Partial custody or visitation may also be arranged, depending on what would be ideal for the child’s well-being.