When a couple divorces, it is common for one of or both of the parties to relocate to be nearer to family for support raising their children. However, when parents live in different states, traditional custody and visitation schedules simply do not work. This article will discuss what type of custody arrangement to expect when parents live in different states.

What does custody usually look like when parents live in different states?

One parent takes on the role of primary custodian. The minor child or children born to the marriage will reside with the primary custodian more than the non-custodial parent. Generally, the children attend school in the district of the primary custodian’s residence.
The other parent becomes the non-custodial parent. If the distance is significant enough to make weekend visits unreasonable, this parent usually has significant holiday visitation.
For example:
The primary custodian has physical custody of the minor children during the school year and for four uninterrupted weeks during the summer. The non-custodial parent has visitation with the minor children on all holidays from school, if the holiday is long enough for the child to travel to their home for visitation. Generally speaking, the non-custodial parent enjoys about six uninterrupted weeks of visitation during the summer.

As the primary custodian, will I never get to have my children on holidays?

Even though the minor children primarily reside with the primary custodian, meaning the non-custodial parent should have generous visitation to be able to spend time with the children, the primary custodian does not miss out on holidays with the children. In most circumstances, the parties alternate holidays using even and odd years.
For example:
The primary custodian would enjoy Thanksgiving and the second half of winter break to include New Years in even years and the non-custodial parent would enjoy the first half of winter break to include Christmas and spring break to include Easter in even years, then the holidays would switch the next year, allowing both parties to celebrate all the major holidays with their minor children.

I have relocated from the state that originally ordered our visitation schedule, where should I reopen the case?

The proper jurisdiction to reopen a visitation schedule depends on where the parties to the case are living. If both parents and the children no longer live in the state that originally ordered the visitation schedule, a change in jurisdiction is proper.
If one of the parties still resides there, that state maintaining jurisdiction may still be proper. By scheduling a consultation with the attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm, you can obtain sound legal advice on where the proper jurisdiction lies to reopen your case.

How does Virginia take jurisdiction of an out of state visitation schedule?

The party moving to reopen the visitation schedule would petition the Court for a change of venue. While some parties choose to file for this change of venue pro se, or by themselves without an attorney, this process can be complicated for individuals without experience in the legal field. It is not difficult to file for this change incorrectly, negatively impacting your case.
The attorneys at The Hopkins Law firm have experience filing for a change of venue successfully and are ready to help you with making reopening your out of state visitation schedule a smooth and efficient process.

Closing Considerations

The Hopkins Law Firm is ready to assist you with your unique legal needs. Contact us today to discuss your case at or 571-248-2210.

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