The Effects of Remarriage on Relocation With Children
As a Fairfax, VA family law attorney, some of the more complex issues with which I deal frequently involve a custodial parent attempting to geographically relocate with his or her child. Because there is no specific statutory law governing the relocation of a custodial parent and child, when the Fairfax court is confronted with these issues, it relies on established legal tests to determine what is in the best interest of the child:
- Is the move in the overall best interest of the child?
- How will the relocation affect the relationship between the non-custodial parent and child?
- How will the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights be affected?
- What are the reasons that the custodial parent wants to relocate with the child?
So, if a child has a particularly close relationship with his/her non-custodial father, and his custodial mother wants to move away from Fairfax, Virginia for better employment opportunity, better schools, or improved housing, the courts will have to balance the impact upon the parent/child relationship and the benefit of the relocation for the child(ren). This could go either way: the request for relocation may be either granted or denied.
When a custodial parent remarries, the Virginia courts consider the new stepparent’s role to be significant in the lives of his or her stepchildren. However this is not an over riding concern of the court, as a stepparent’s rights are not equivalent to those of a parent. If the stepmother or stepfather claims that there exists a need to relocate their family to another Virginia county or even a different state altogether, this could be a very difficult case. The rights of parents and the parental bond is superior than the needs of a stepparent in relocation cases. It is a tricky situation to maneuver.
It’s important to note that the courts are always reluctant to allow any geographical relocation that would harm the child emotionally or financially. If it’s believed that the claim that the relocation is necessary due to better employment opportunities for a parent is a false pretense, then it is likely to be denied by the Fairfax court. Furthermore, if it can be established that the custodial parent can find a similar job with nearly equal compensation in his or her current residential area, the courts are again likely to deny the request for relocation.
The following is an example of a relocation request that might be granted in the Fairfax, VA courts:
A divorced Arlington mother who has custody over her daughter is an attorney who makes her living in the oil industry. Because of her specific area of practice, she may be able to show that she is having a difficult time finding employment in Fairfax County or the surrounding areas. After all, with her background, she may not easily be able command the same salary in family law or another area of practice. There are thousands of law firms in Virginia, but there may be better opportunities for her in other states. Her request for relocation is further strengthened if it can be shown that the move is in the daughter’s best interest (better house, improved school, etc.), that her relationship with her natural father would not be significantly impacted by the move, or that the natural father is not particularly involved in the girl’s life.
Whether you are a Fairfax resident or reside elsewhere in Virginia, if you are seeking a modification of your child custody arrangement or relocation to another area, you should contact a reputable family law attorney with experience in child custody issues.
Virginia Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker
Do you need a divorce and family law attorney? Do you have questions about the effects of remarriage on relocation with children? We invite you to contact us today at (703) 596-1005. We're always just a phone call away.