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DIVORCE & FAMILY LAW
Your Virginia Child custody Lawyers
Every parent who is going through a divorce or child custody/visitation proceedings is concerned about the welfare of their child, which parent they will live with and who gets to make decisions regarding their welfare.
In Virginia, there are two forms of custody: Legal Custody and Physical Custody.
Legal custody of the child is determined by who gets to make important decisions regarding the child’s well-being.
Physical custody, on the other hand, is determined by with which parent the child will primarily live.
In Virginia, legal custody can be awarded solely to one parent or jointly to both parents. Joint legal custody means that both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child.
It is very common in Virginia for joint legal custody to be appointed to both parents so they both can be involved in important decisions of their child’s life.
A Court may award joint legal custody to both the parents and award physical custody to one parent, with the other parent receiving visitation with the child.
The Court may also decide that the parents can have shared physical custody of the child, where the child will spend a significant amount of time with both parents.
In making the custody determination, the Court has to consider what is in the best interest of the child. In order to determine what is in the best interest of a child, the Court takes various factors into account (outlined by VA Code Section 20-124.3).
Factors considered by the court in determining the best interest of the child include:
- Parent’s age, physical and mental health of the parents, age of the child, the existing relationship between each parent and the child, the needs of the child, the role played by each parent in the child’s upbringing and care, the child’s wishes (if of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity) and the ability of each parent to foster a strong relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. The Court also considers the ability of each parent to resolve any dispute regarding the child.
- Both legal and physical custody, as well as visitation orders can be modified by showing that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the original determination which warrants a change in custody.
At Khanna Law we successfully help our clients navigate the complicated custody litigation process on a regular basis. We pride ourselves in guiding you, protecting your rights and providing dedicated, intelligent and reliable representation.
Frequently Asked Custody/Visitation Questions
Child Visitation defines the circumstances under which the non-custodial parent will spend time with the children. Virginia courts have issued a wide variety of different visitation schedules, restrictions and accommodations to address every conceivable situation.
Visitation can range from very liberal, unstructured visitation to very restrictive, supervised visitation. The state guidelines in Virginia presume that both parents will play a substantial role in the upbringing of the children and are designed to ensure both parents work together wherever possible to accomplish that goal. In some cases this can be difficult, in other cases it can be accomplished quite easily.
Please give us a call to discuss your case and we can provide insight into your circumstances.
While most people understand that a biological parent can be awarded visitation it is also important to understand that that parties other than parents, such as, grandparents and step-parents may also be awarded visitation rights in Virginia.
The court has the power to deny visitation, however, normally the court will only stop visitation for a certain time or until a certain task is performed. For example, the court has previously stayed visitation until a parent has completed drug treatment, family counseling, psychological evaluation and treatment, etc. It is extremely unusual but not unheard of for the Court to terminate one parent’s rights altogether.
Please be aware that the Court will not permit you either to stop paying child support if you are denied visitation nor will they permit you to interfere with visitation if the other parent stops paying support. Withholding of child support in particular will only create more difficulties for you and possibly result in incarceration. Timely payment of child support along with good parenting skills will improve your chances of moving the court toward more liberal visitation privileges.