By Alexander T. Lewis of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Monday, October 16, 2017.
We often receive calls from clients asking “If I am planning to separate from my spouse and I want to move out of the area with my children, can I do that?” This is a complex question that has no universal answer.
In the scenario where the parties have separated, but there is no court order in place regarding custody and visitation, each party is free to do as he or she pleases with the children as it pertains to custody and visitation. Put simply, if there is no custody order in place, then, yes, a party can move away with the children. However, this decision is not without consequences and can cause significant issues later in any subsequent litigation.
For example, if Mom decides to move from Fairfax to North Carolina with the children before any orders have been entered by the court, she is free to do so. However, upon learning of her intention to take the children to North Carolina, Dad is likely to file a petition for custody and visitation with the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court and file an emergency motion requesting that Mom be prevented from removing the children from Virginia.
If this situation does arise, one can imagine that the court may not look too fondly upon the parent who tried to remove the children from the state and away from the other parent. Of course, the moving party may have valid reasons for wanting to move that would justify the decision. Determining how to proceed in this scenario is a significant decision with potentially serious repercussions and you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your legal matter with an attorney, please contact Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C. for a complementary, 30-minute consultation. (703) 591-7475.