Legal Minute - Custody: Out of State Move
By James A. Weaver
If the mother or father of your children is planning on moving them out of state, it is important to know your rights and how to act accordingly. It is presumed by law that each biological parent has an equal right to raise their children as they see fit. This includes the right to make decisions about education, religion, medical care, and where the children will live. The first thing you must do if your spouse intends to take your children out of state is examine any existing custody orders. It is possible that your existing orders already prevent the mother/father of your children from moving them unilaterally. If this is the case, you are entitled to file what’s known as a “show cause” in juvenile domestic relations court. This document must be filed in the jurisdiction where any initial custody orders were entered, and may include custody or visitation orders. If you do not have an existing custody or visitation order, you will need to file what it known as an initial petition for custody and visitation. Once all petitions are filed, there will be a hearing set for a judge to determine whether the parties have reached an agreement or not. If no agreement has been reached, the court will set a date for a trial. It is possible that a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed after this, as is common practice in the state of Virginia, to protect the interests of the children. On the trial date, the court will make a determination as to the custody and visitation of the children, including whether it is in the children’s bets interests to move out of state. In these kinds of matters, getting a lawyer involved quickly is important, as there is certain procedural minutia you will have to overcome, and it is much easier to understand all the various intricacies of the law with an attorney on your side. Protect your rights in custody-related matters, contact our family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller with any and all questions.