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VA family and child custody laws, can a parent take a child out of state without other parent's permission

South Boston, VA |

Can a married parent A take a child out of state for indefinite time, with indefinite plans with no forwarding address to parent B? (A and B are married to each other). Can B prevent this or take legal action to remedy it?

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Attorney answers 1


Virginia courts have consistently ruled against the parent who withholds a child or children from the other parent. The parent left behind can file with the courts asking to block the move, to return the child to the state, if the child has already been taken out of state and ask for the court to grant custody to the parent left behind. Withholding a child from the other parent can be used as grounds for tranferring custody from one parent to the other. Review the elements in Virgnia Code Section 20-124.3 to see what a court must consider in deciding custody. 20-124.3(6) specifically refers to the propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access or visitation with the child.
The more difficult the leaving parent makes locating the child or communicating with the child or with the other parent about his or her whereabouts, the less credible the leaving parent will be in court, which increases the liklihood that the judge will give the left behind parent custody.
Can you take the child out of state? Yes. Can you stay for an indefinite period of time, No. Think twice before taking those steps, you risk your position in any custody proceding.

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