Issues of child custody and a visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent are always considered during any divorce proceeding, both during the pendente lite hearing and the first full hearing of the divorce.

For parents who were never married, the non-custodial parent can ask for a court hearing on visitation with the child and/or custody. With parents who were never married, and even within a former marriage, there can be disputes about whether a person really is the parent of a child. And that can sometimes get complicated. Even when DNA proves that a man is not the father, legal actions can foreclose a challenge to paternity.

At later times, child custody and the child visitation schedule may also be modified. However, a parent who wants to modify child visitation or child custody must convince the Court that there has been a material change of circumstances before the Court will get into the details.

The Court's order fixing child custody and visitation is "final" and unchange-able under Virginia law, unless there has been such a significant and meaningful change of circumstances to justify re-opening the case. Judges unfortunately do not seem to have a consistent standard or concept of what constitutes a material change of circumstances. We should sit down for a free initial consultation

What about a parent moving to another State or far away across Virginia?

A parent is always free to move anywhere in the country, however, that does not change the court-ordered visitation schedule. So if you had to move to Michigan for a job, you would still have to have the child back to Virginia by Friday night (for example) to allow the non-custodial parent to have visitation with the child.

So moving requires a change to the court-ordered visitation schedule. To convince the judge to modify the existing court order, the moving parent will have to convince the Court that the move is reasonably necessary for employment or career. Perhaps other reasons might be persuasive, such as the need to care for a dying parent. But the Court will have to be persuaded that the move is necessary, not just at teh whim of the moving parent.