Custody, visitation, and Support in Virginia
Legal Help for Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support
If you are faced with the prospect of losing your child in a bitter custody battle, or if you need help establishing, enforcing or modifying child support, you will want to have the right person by your side. Contact the Burroughs Law Office, P.C. in Virginia Beach today for your free introductory consultation.
Best interests of the CHILD AND CHILD CUSTODY
Judges consider many factors when determining who should receive custody of a child. These factors are intended to establish what is truly in the child's best interest. In some cases it only takes one factor to tip the scales in favor of one parent over the other.
The factors that the judge should consider in deciding what is in the child's best interests include (see Section 20-124.3 of the Virginia Code):
- The age and physical and mental condition of the child and the child's developmental needs
- The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
- The relationship between each parent and the child, the parent's positive involvement and ability to assess and meet the child's needs
- The child's needs including important relationships such as with brothers and sisters, grandparents, and other relatives
- The role which each parent has played and will play in the upbringing and care of the child
- Each parent's willingness to support the child's relationship with the other parent, their willingness and ability to maintain a close relationship with the child, and their ability to cooperate in matters affecting the child
- The child's preference
- Any history of abuse
- Any other factors the judges feels it is necessary to consider
Other factors the judge may consider include where the child(ren) will reside, which parent will be in a better position to manage the daily affairs of the child, how siblings will be affected, and whether either parent is involved in a new relationship. When it comes to child custody in Virginia, the courts lean toward joint physical custody all things being equal. Whatever your individual situation may be, focus on what is best for your child(ren).
Whether you are petitioning for custody or want the court to reconsider a decision based on new information, you should seek the advice of a competent lawyer in your area.
Visitation in Virginia (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake)
Believe it or not, the same best interests of the child standard is applied in cases involving child visitation in Virginia. To help determine a schedule of child visitation that makes sense for your children in cases where physical custody is something other than joint or shared, a good way to start is to first put yourself in the position of the noncustodial parent. What visitation do you believe would best serve your child(ren) if your spouse were to have sole physical custody? If your life permits, I am confident you would want something more than a day or weekend here or there. You'd want as much time with your child(ren) as you could get and your children would likely want that too.
Once you've thought through what type of visitation you'd want with your child(ren), the next step is to reverse your roles. Why isn't what is good for your and your child(ren) good for the other parent? This is also a good way of dealing with long distance parents. While this isn't foolproof, considering visitation from this perspective often helps parents focus on their children rather than on themselves.
Sure, it's not ideal. You likely never saw yourself in this position, having to deal with visitation in this way. Let's be honest, if you're fighting over custody and/or visitation, nothing else in your life will seem to be going well until this is sorted out. Every good parent feels this way. Focus on being the best parent for your child(ren) and encourage the child(ren)'s other parent to do the same. Their future may very well depend on it.Our firm can help you reach a resolution on your terms, as parents, or can provide competent legal representation in any legal dispute involving your child(ren). Call (757) 363-0077 to speak with a Virginia Beach child custody-visitation lawyer today!
Attorney Lawren D. Burroughs negotiates, mediates or litigates to achieve an appropriate result regarding child support payments. Whether you are seeking to establish, modify or enforce child support payments, we will be there for you. We also help with issues of spousal support or alimony.
You are best served by an honest assessment of your circumstances. We will let you know where you stand and what your rights are. To schedule a free introductory consultation, call 757-363-0077 or toll free 1-877-743-0448 or contact us by e-mail.
QUESTIONS CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERS ARE OFTEN ASKED:
I AM IN A CUSTODY BATTLE. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO WIN CHILD CUSTODY?
As a father, I wish there were a magic wand or at least some way to make things better without throwing a child into the arena of a bitter custody dispute. I see so many parents fighting over the children, and so few fighting for them. If you're asking how to win child custody, I'd have to first start by making sure you understand the question you're asking. The legal perspective on that question would focus only on the custody battle itself, with the endgame being to win child custody (usually sole custody). This may not be what is best for the child. Viewing this question from the child's perspective often times yields something completely different. All things being equal, Virginia courts strongly encourage co-parenting in a shared custody arrangement whenever possible.
The reality for many parents in the midst of a custody battle is that they aren't getting along. One parent is likely less suited to raise a child, lacking maturity and responsibility, possibly even unfit. Maybe it's just a game and custody is a way of reducing child support. Perhaps it's an issue that still lingers from a divorce or breakup. One parent may be scorned and is using the issue of child custody to get under the other parent's skin. Whatever the case, one or both of the parents has lost sight of what is best for the child. In these cases, it's the child that suffers.
If an agreement can be reached, then by all means try that first. You are the one that has to live with what happens, not the lawyer, guardian ad litem, or family court judge. If the other parent won't come to the table and do what is best for your child, prepare to battle it out in court. In court, your case will be scrutinized by opposing counsel, a guardian ad litem, and a judge, all with different opinions and approaches to custody disputes. This is important to keep in mind, because the law is not black and white. The family law judge has a broad range of discretion and is tasked with reviewing the evidence presenting and applying this information to a long list of factors in the Virginia Code. There's no magic wand and it doesn't always turn out the way it should. Make sure you hire the best attorney for your needs and work with him or her to achieve your objective.
MY SPOUSE AND I ARE WORKING ON A CHILD CUSTODY AGREEMENT. CAN YOU TELL ME THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SOLE CUSTODY, LEGAL CUSTODY, AND SHARED CUSTODY?
Before providing a description of the various custody arrangements in Virginia, it is important to understand a couple of things first. Custody is comprised of two components: legal custody and physical custody.
Sole Custody: This is the holy grail of custody in Virginia. I write this because so many people want this and don't really understand what it means. With sole custody, only one parent is responsible for the care and control of the child and make all decisions concerning the child. The non-custodial parent is not divested of his or her responsibility to support the child. That is only accomplished by the termination of his parental rights (voluptuary or otherwise) and the subsequent adoption by another. Courts are reluctant to grant sole legal custody to one parent unless it is demonstrated that the other parent is unfit. Most parents seeking sole custody are really asking for primary physical custody (sole physical custody).
Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share responsibility for the care and control of the child and make decisions concerning the child through the child's primary residence may be with only one parent. In this case either parent may have primary physical custody (sole physical custody).
Shared Custody: Both parents share physical and custodial care of the child. Both parents make decisions concerning the child well-being on a day-to-day basis. In this case, the child essentially lives in two places and does not call either one of them home to the exclusion of the other.
WHY DO CHILD CUSTODY LAWYERS COST SO MUCH?
There are two reasons a child custody lawyer costs so much. The first may be that neither party is willing to do what is best for the child. Each may have his or her own motives for making things contentious. Some just want their day in court. In any event, that day in court costs a lot of money. The amount of work that goes into preparing for a custody battle is not often considered when emotions rule the roost. The second reason may have to do with the other parent. Maybe you are onboard with settling things on your own terms. That is, at least, something you can control. If the other parent isn't interested, however, this may not be an option for you.
The family law court process isn't the quickest and that's by design to some extent. When balancing efficiency with cost and getting things right, the courts lean toward getting it right. Rushing through a process and denying parents access to the legal system only serves to harm children in the end. Making decisions based on only a fraction of the evidence doesn't help any either. The family law courts want to ensure they have as much information as possible to help them make the best decisions possible in cases involving child custody and visitation. This means child custody lawyers and their clients have their work cut out for them. From the first consultation to the court's final disposition, family law attorneys get to know their clients, their children, and the opposing parties very well; they prepare for trial, leaving no stone unturned; and then battle it out in court. As you can guess, this takes a lot of time and can cost a lot of money. And with something as important as the future of your children, failure resulting from a lack of effort just isn't an option.
Call our Virginia Beach family law attorney today to find out how we can help.