Virginia Child Custody Attorney
Child custody is one of the most emotional family law issues that we deal with on behalf of our clients. The thought of losing contact with a child is incredibly stressful for a parent, which is why our Virginia child custody attorney will always give you honest and straightforward advice on how to navigate this complex process.
At Farmer Legal, our family law team helps parents protect their legal rights while making sure that the best interests of their children are seen to at every turn. Attorney Joshua Farmer has experience dealing with Virginia’s child custody laws and will work with you on a solution that is tailored to your family’s unique situation.
Our Virginia family law attorney understands that custody disputes are often emotional matters. Our legal team has experience as fierce advocates on behalf of mothers, fathers, and grandparents in custody cases across the state of Virginia. We handle both initial custody determinations as well as cases involving custody modifications or the relocation of custodial parents.
Types of Custodial Arrangements in Virginia
If you are parent facing a visitation or custody case in the state of Virginia, you may be asked to make a choice among several types of arrangements. Virginia law provides for approximately five different types of custody arrangements, as governed by either Virginia Code § 20-124.1 or § 20-108.2.
- Sole Custodyis a Virginia custody arrangement in which one parent assumes the primary role of seeing to the physical, emotional, and moral development of the child. The child will live primarily with the custodial parent, and that parent has the authority to make all major decisions affecting that child.
- Joint Custodyis an arrangement in which both parents share the responsibility for the physical, emotional, and moral development of the child. There is also shared decision-making for major decisions that affect the child.
- Shared Custodymay sound similar to joint custody, but there are some subtle differences. Shared custody relates to physical custody and the payment of child support. For example, Virginia Code § 20-108.2(G)(3) states that the guidelines for shared custody child support payments will only apply if each parent has physical custody of the child for at least 90-days during the year. For the sake of this arrangement, a “day” is a 24-hour period although a half-day is allocated if there is no overnight stay. Also, parents can agree to a shared custody child support arrangement even if the 90-day threshold isn’t met.
- Split Custodyis an unusual circumstance as it relates to each parent having the primary or sole custody of one or more children. While this isn’t typically approved by a judge, if all parties believe that having children living in separate homes is in the best interests of the children, it’s a possibility.
- Divided Custodyis a custody arrangement in which the child lives alternatively with each parent, who has primary custody rights while the child is in their care.
How Virginia Courts Decide Child Custody Cases
A child custody case can be filled with emotion, and there could be a temptation to lose sight of the primary goal, which is to take the best possible care of your children. This is why Virginia Code § 20-124.3 dictates how the courts determine child custody in this state. According to the law, the best interests of the child are primary, and the courts will use several factors to determine what is in your child’s best interests. Among these factors are:
- The Status Quo. Maintaining the child’s existing environment and routines is important. If one parent stays in the marital home or the same school district after separation, this will be an important custody
- Primary Caregiver. Judges will want to know which parent is primarily responsible for the day-to-day care of children, such as school pickups, medical appointments, after-school activities, and fixing meals.
- Parent-Child Relationships. Courts always take into consideration the bond between a parent and their child. While this is subjective, you can submit evidence such as tales of shared interests, trips, and other activities.
- Willingness to Co-Parent. If there is proof that one parent speaks negatively about the other to a child or tries to undermine the other parent’s relationship, the courts will not react positively to this type of behavior.
- The Child’s Reasonable Preference. Depending on the age of the child, the court may consider the child’s preference. However, courts are generally not in favor of parents pushing their children to act as a witness on their behalf.
- Any Abuse History. As the courts always aim to act in the child’s best interests, any history of violence or abuse in the home will be an overwhelming custody consideration.
Custody Modifications in Virginia
Custody arrangements may need to be changed for a variety of reasons. The Virginia courts allow for a modification of a custody or visitation order if circumstances have changed or if a change would be in the best interests of the child. A change in circumstances could be a new job, a remarriage, or even a parent with legal or substance abuse issues.
Denial of Visitation in Virginia Custody Cases
When a parent denies visitation to another parent for any reason, this is in violation of Virginia law. Even if one parent fails to make required child support payments, the other parent cannot deny court-ordered visitation or go against the terms of a custody agreement. If you are being denied visitation with your children, it is important that you seek legal guidance as quickly as possible.
Relocation in a Virginia Custody Case
Parents may find that they need to move for either family or employment reasons, which could affect a custody arrangement. Again, the courts will look at what is in the best interest of the child, and our Virginia custody lawyer can help you prepare for the necessary modification hearing.
At Farmer Legal, we take child custody cases and the best interests of your children very seriously. Virginia child custody attorney Joshua Farmer employs his compassion and expertise to help clients negotiate child custody and visitation arrangements that protect and promote the highest degree of family harmony. Contact our Glen Allen, VA office at (804) 325-1441 to schedule a consultation today.