Krussell v. Al Rayes (Record No. 0922-09-4, November 10th 2009) is an unpublished Virginia Court of Appeals decision denying a mother’s petition to relocate children to Boston. We can learn from this case even if it cannot be cited as authority.

I count eight reasons why the mother lost:

1. The daughters were happy, well adjusted, and doing well in school. (This begs the question as to whether opposite circumstances would have favored relocation. Maybe not, but the factor would have been neutralized.)
2. The children had a close relationship with their dad and enjoyed spending time with him.
3. Mom was inflexible with visitation.
4. Mom blocked the kids from attending dad’s “Children at Work” program.
5. Mom’s effort to seek employment in Virginia was “minimal, if not questionable”. She only started job-hunting a week before the relocation hearing.
6. The parties were unable to cooperate in resolving visitation disputes.
7. The relationship with dad could not be “substantially maintained” if the move were allowed. (The noted child psychologist, Dr. Joan B. Kelly, believes the chances a parental bond may be jeopardized are substantially greater if children are more than about 300 miles away. Boston is more than that distance from Northern Virginia.)
8. Mom’s appellate brief failed to set forth any principles of law or citations to legal authorities.

Two of the reasons — numbered 5 and 8 above — were in my professional opinion, outcome-determinative.

In Virginia, relocation must benefit the child more than the parent. Mom’s complaining that the children’s quality of life suffered because mom could not find a job in Virginia; whereas they could live with Mom’s parents in Massachusetts while she attended graduate school; was clearly a sham when mom had done so little (so late) to find work. When a party represents one thing in court about a material fact and the evidence shows the opposite, they usually lose.

When an attorney fails to cite any legal authority for reversing the trial court decision; the appeal is doomed even if it had merit. It is like missing a flag in a downhill ski competition; you get nothing when you fail to follow the rules.