Child Custody Laws In Virginia-Lawyer

CHILD CUSTODY – VIRGINIA

If you and your spouse or your child’s other parent, have been constantly having differences of opinion and have decided to part ways, then you should seriously consider approaching an experienced Virginia lawyer about your child custody case in Virginia.  Hiring a lawyer who is experienced in child custody cases and one who is equipped with the knowledge and training to handle child custody cases in Virginia is critical.  The SRIS Law Group has represented numerous clients with child custody cases in Virginia.  Our law firm has a team of attorneys, who have in-depth knowledge on how to succeed in a child custody case in Virginia.  Our attorneys are skilled ataccurately developing persuasive grounds to help you with your child custody case.

126

You may be emotionally traumatized when the future of your child is in question and uncertainty prevails as to who will have custody of your child.  The courts in Virginia have always considered the best interests of the child while awarding child custody.  Best interests of the child can be determined based on a number of factors such as age, physical and mental condition of the child, age, physical and mental condition of each parent, the relationship between each parent and the child, the role each parent can play in the child’s future, the ability of each parent to support the child’s contact with the other parent, any history of family abuse, the preference of the child and other such factors.  Definitions relating to child custody and factors the court considers in awarding child custody are as follows:

Child Custody – Definitions, Virginia:
“Legal custody”
Under Va. Code Ann § 16.1-228. Definitions
“Sole custody”:
Under Virginia Code § 20-124.1. Definitions
“Joint custody”:
Virginia Code § 20-124.1. Definitions.
Court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements Virginia
Under Virginia Code § 20-124.2. Court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements
Best Interests of the Child; Visitation Virginia:
Under Virginia Code § 20-124.3. Best interests of the child; visitation.
Relocation (Moving Out Of State), Virginia:
Under Virginia Code § 20-124.5. Notification of relocation
Protective Orders for Child Virginia:
Preliminary protective order:
Virginia Code § 16.1-253. Preliminary protective order.

Child Custody – Definitions, Virginia:

“Legal custody”

Va. Code Ann § 16.1-228 provides the definition for legal custody.  If a court order gives you custody of a child then the legal custody of the child vests with you.  By taking legal custody of the child, you are taking up the responsibility to decide as to with whom the child may live.  With legal custody, you will also have the right and duty to protect, train and discipline the child and to provide him with food, shelter, education and ordinary medical care.

Under Va. Code Ann § 16.1-228. Definitions

“”Legal custody” means (i) a legal status created by court order which vests in a custodian the right to have physical custody of the child, to determine and redetermine where and with whom he shall live, the right and duty to protect, train and discipline him and to provide him with food, shelter, education and ordinary medical care, all subject to any residual parental rights and responsibilities or (ii) the legal status created by court order of joint custody as defined in § 20-107.2.”

“Sole custody”:

If you are solely given the responsibility to take care of and control the child and you are the sole person who has the right to make decisions about the child, then according to Virginia Code § 20-124.1 you have sole custody of the child.

Under Virginia Code § 20-124.1. Definitions

“” Sole custody” means that one person retains responsibility for the care and control of a child and has primary authority to make decisions concerning the child.”

“Joint custody”:

If you and your spouse or your child’s other parent are jointly given the responsibility to take care of and control the child and both of you have the right to make decisions about the child, then according to Virginia Code § 20-124.1 you have joint custody of the child.  In joint custody cases, the child may be residing with one parent or with both parents.

Virginia Code § 20-124.1. Definitions.

“”Joint custody” means (i) joint legal custody where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child’s primary residence may be with only one parent, (ii) joint physical custody where both parents share physical and custodial care of the child, or (iii) any combination of joint legal and joint physical custody which the court deems to be in the best interest of the child.”

Court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements Virginia

If you are filing for child custody in Virginia, the Court may enter an order pending the suit as provided in Va. Code § 20-103.  In child custody cases, mediation may be used wherever appropriate.  Mediation is convenient in addressing issues such as the child’s residential schedule and care arrangements, and how disputes between the parents may be handled in the future.

In every child custody case, the courts in Virginia give importance to your child’s best interest.  In a child custody determination, the Virginia Courts do their best to ensure that the child remains in continuous contact with both parents and encourages the parents to share parenting responsibilities.  Virginia law does not favor either parent.  Parents are given primacy in a child custody case by Virginia courts by considering the best interest of the child.  However, in Virginia, custody may be awarded to any other person having a legitimate interest.

In a child custody case in Virginia, you may seek child support and it may be ordered by the court if certain factors exist.  The court may order child support to continue for any child living in your home if he/she is over the age of 18, is a full-time high school student and not self-supporting.  Such child support may continue to be paid till the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school, whichever occursfirst.  The courts in Virginia may order child support to be continued for a child who is above 18 years, who is severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, unable to live independently and support himself and resides in the home of the parent seeking child support.

In your child custody case, the courts in Virginia may order an independent mental health or psychological evaluation. The purpose of such an order is to assist the court in determining the best interests of the child.

If the other party fails to comply with a child custody order entered by a court in Virginia, then the other party may be guilty of contempt of court.  Where a child custody order has been entered, you may petition the court to enjoin and the court may enter an order to enjoin the other parent of your child from filing a petition relating to custody and visitation for any period of time up to 10 years if doing so is in the best interests of your child.

Under Virginia Code § 20-124.2. Court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements

“A. In any case in which custody or visitation of minor children is at issue, whether in a circuit or district court, the court shall provide prompt adjudication, upon due consideration of all the facts, of custody and visitation arrangements, including support and maintenance for the children, prior to other considerations arising in the matter. The court may enter an order pending the suit as provided in § 20-103. The procedures for determining custody and visitation arrangements shall insofar as practical, and consistent with the ends of justice, preserve the dignity and resources of family members. Mediation shall be used as an alternative to litigation where appropriate. When mediation is used in custody and visitation matters, the goals may include development of a proposal addressing the child’s residential schedule and care arrangements, and how disputes between the parents will be handled in the future.

  1. In determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. As between the parents, there shall be no presumption or inference of law in favor of either. The court shall give due regard to the primacy of the parent-child relationship but may upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the best interest of the child would be served thereby award custody or visitation to any other person with a legitimate interest. The court may award joint custody or sole custody.
  2. The court may order that support be paid for any child of the parties. The court shall also order that support will continue to be paid for any child over the age of 18 who is (i) a full-time high school student, (ii) not self-supporting, and (iii) living in the home of the party seeking or receiving child support until such child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school, whichever first occurs. The court may also order the continuation of support for any child over the age of 18 who is (i) severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, (ii) unable to live independently and support himself, and (iii) resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support. In addition, the court may confirm a stipulation or agreement of the parties which extends a support obligation beyond when it would otherwise terminate as provided by law. The court shall have no authority to decree support of children payable by the estate of a deceased party. The court may make such further decree as it shall deem expedient concerning support of the minor children, including an order that either party or both parties provide health care coverage or cash medical support, or both.
  3. In any case in which custody or visitation of minor children is at issue, whether in a circuit or district court, the court may order an independent mental health or psychological evaluation to assist the court in its determination of the best interests of the child. The court may enter such order as it deems appropriate for the payment of the costs of the evaluation by the parties.
  4. The court shall have the continuing authority and jurisdiction to make any additional orders necessary to effectuate and enforce any order entered pursuant to this section or § 20-103 including the authority to punish as contempt of court any willful failure of a party to comply with the provisions of the order. A parent or other person having legal custody of a child may petition the court to enjoin and the court may enter an order to enjoin a parent of the child from filing a petition relating to custody and visitation of that child for any period of time up to 10 years if doing so is in the best interests of the child and such parent has been convicted of an offense under the laws of the Commonwealth or a substantially similar law of another state, the United States, or any foreign jurisdiction which constitutes (i) murder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any such offense, if the victim of the offense was a child of the parent, a child with whom the parent resided at the time the offense occurred, or the other parent of the child, or (ii) felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury, felony bodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury, or felony sexual assault, if the victim of the offense was a child of the parent or a child with whom the parent resided at the time of the offense. When such a petition to enjoin the filing of a petition for custody and visitation is filed, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child pursuant to § 16.1-266.”

Best Interests of the Child; Visitation Virginia:

In a child custody case in Virginia, the courts consider a number of factors in determining the best interests of your child.  The courts give consideration to the age and physical and mental condition of your child, your child’s changing developmental needs, the age and physical and mental condition of each parent and the relationship existing between each parent and each child.  The Court also considers the role that each parent has played and may play in the future of the child and the ability of each parent to support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent.  In child custody cases, it is important that both parents support each other’s relationship with the child so the court considers the relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child.  If the child is of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express a preference, the preference of the child is taken in to consideration by the courts.  The courts consider whether there has been any history of family abuse in determining the best interest of the child.  Based on all the above mentioned factors and such other factors as the court may deem necessary, the court comes to a conclusion as to the best interest of the child in a child custody case.

Under Virginia Code § 20-124.3. Best interests of the child; visitation.

“In determining best interests of a child for purposes of determining custody or visitation arrangements including any pendente lite orders pursuant to § 20-103, the court shall consider the following:

  1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs;
  2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
  3. The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child’s life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child;
  4. The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members;
  5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child;
  6. The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;
  7. The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child;
  8. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference;
  9. Any history of family abuse as that term is defined in § 16.1-228 or sexual abuse. If the court finds such a history, the court may disregard the factors in subdivision 6; and
  10. Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

The judge shall communicate to the parties the basis of the decision either orally or in writing. Except in cases of consent orders for custody and visitation, this communication shall set forth the judge’s findings regarding the relevant factors set forth in this section.”

Relocation (Moving Out Of State), Virginia:

If you are the custodial parent or a parent having only visitation rights and you intend to relocate to another state or within the Commonwealth of Virginia, or if you are a non-custodial parent and the other party intends to relocate to another state or within the Commonwealth of Virginia with your children, you need to know all about relocation.  In considering relocation, Virginia courts generally allow relocation only when the relocation is in the child’s best interest.  However, the benefit to the child must be separate from the benefit to the custodial parent.  The party intending to relocate has to give thirty days advance written notice to the court and the other party.  The relocating party also has to provide details of the new address.

Under Virginia Code § 20-124.5. Notification of relocation

“In any proceeding involving custody or visitation, the court shall include as a condition of any custody or visitation order a requirement that thirty days’ advance written notice be given to the court and the other party by any party intending to relocate and of any intended change of address, unless the court, for good cause shown, orders otherwise. The court may require that the notice be in such form and contain such information as it deems proper and necessary under the circumstances of the case.”

Protective Orders for Child Virginia:

Preliminary protective order:

The Virginia Courts may issue a preliminary protective order ex parte if a motion is filed by any person or by the court’s own motion or by petition.  The purpose of such a protective order is to protect the child’s life, health, safety or normal development during the time the matter is pending before the court.  A preliminary protective order requires the respondent of the protective order to observe reasonable conditions of behavior for a particular period of time.  This protective order entered by the court may order the respondent to abstain from offensive conduct against the child, to cooperate in programs designed to protect the child’s life, health or normal development and may allow persons authorized by the court to come into the child’s home for visiting the child or to inspect the fitness of the home and to determine the physical or emotional health of the child.  The Virginia court may by a protective order, allow visitation with the child by entitled persons and such an order may prevent respondent from resorting to acts of that tend to endanger the child’s life, health or normal development.

Virginia Code § 16.1-253. Preliminary protective order.

“A. Upon the motion of any person or upon the court’s own motion, the court may issue a preliminary protective order, after a hearing, if necessary to protect a child’s life, health, safety or normal development pending the final determination of any matter before the court. The order may require a child’s parents, guardian, legal custodian, other person standing in loco parentis or other family or household member of the child to observe reasonable conditions of behavior for a specified length of time. These conditions shall include any one or more of the following:

  1. To abstain from offensive conduct against the child, a family or household member of the child or any person to whom custody of the child is awarded;
  2. To cooperate in the provision of reasonable services or programs designed to protect the child’s life, health or normal development;
  3. To allow persons named by the court to come into the child’s home at reasonable times designated by the court to visit the child or inspect the fitness of the home and to determine the physical or emotional health of the child;
  4. To allow visitation with the child by persons entitled thereto, as determined by the court;
  5. To refrain from acts of commission or omission which tend to endanger the child’s life, health or normal development;
  6. To refrain from such contact with the child or family or household members of the child, as the court may deem appropriate, including removal of such person from the residence of the child. However, prior to the issuance by the court of an order removing such person from the residence of the child, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such person’s probable future conduct would constitute a danger to the life or health of such child, and that there are no less drastic alternatives which could reasonably and adequately protect the child’s life or health pending a final determination on the petition; or
  7. To grant the person on whose behalf the order is issued the possession of any companion animal as defined in § 3.2-6500 if such person meets the definition of owner in § 3.2-6500.
  8. A preliminary protective order may be issued ex parte upon motion of any person or the court’s own motion in any matter before the court, or upon petition. The motion or petition shall be supported by an affidavit or by sworn testimony in person before the judge or intake officer which establishes that the child would be subjected to an imminent threat to life or health to the extent that delay for the provision of an adversary hearing would be likely to result in serious or irremediable injury to the child’s life or health. If an ex parte order is issued without an affidavit being presented, the court, in its order, shall state the basis upon which the order was entered, including a summary of the allegations made and the court’s findings. Following the issuance of an ex parte order the court shall provide an adversary hearing to the affected parties within the shortest practicable time not to exceed five business days after the issuance of the order.
  9. Prior to the hearing required by this section, notice of the hearing shall be given at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing to the guardian ad litem for the child, to the parents, guardian, legal custodian, or other person standing in loco parentis of the child, to any other family or household member of the child to whom the protective order may be directed and to the child if he or she is 12 years of age or older. The notice provided herein shall include (i) the time, date and place for the hearing and (ii) a specific statement of the factual circumstances which allegedly necessitate the issuance of a preliminary protective order.
  10. All parties to the hearing shall be informed of their right to counsel pursuant to § 16.1-266.
  11. At the hearing the child, his or her parents, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis and any other family or household member of the child to whom notice was given shall have the right to confront and cross-examine all adverse witnesses and evidence and to present evidence on their own behalf.
  12. If a petition alleging abuse or neglect of a child has been filed, at the hearing pursuant to this section the court shall determine whether the allegations of abuse or neglect have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Any finding of abuse or neglect shall be stated in the court order. However, if, before such a finding is made, a person responsible for the care and custody of the child, the child’s guardian ad litem or the local department of social services objects to a finding being made at the hearing, the court shall schedule an adjudicatory hearing to be held within 30 days of the date of the initial preliminary protective order hearing. The adjudicatory hearing shall be held to determine whether the allegations of abuse and neglect have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Parties who are present at the hearing shall be given notice of the date set for the adjudicatory hearing and parties who are not present shall be summoned as provided in § 16.1-263. The adjudicatory hearing shall be held and an order may be entered, although a party to the hearing fails to appear and is not represented by counsel, provided personal or substituted service was made on the person, or the court determines that such person cannot be found, after reasonable effort, or in the case of a person who is without the Commonwealth, the person cannot be found or his post office address cannot be ascertained after reasonable effort.

Any preliminary protective order issued shall remain in full force and effect pending the adjudicatory hearing.

  1. If at the preliminary protective order hearing held pursuant to this section the court makes a finding of abuse or neglect and a preliminary protective order is issued, a dispositional hearing shall be held pursuant to § 16.1-278.2. The court shall forthwith, but in all cases no later than the end of the business day on which the order was issued, enter and transfer electronically to the Virginia Criminal Information Network the respondent’s identifying information and the name, date of birth, sex, and race of each protected person provided to the court. A copy of the preliminary protective order containing any such identifying information shall be forwarded forthwith to the primary law-enforcement agency responsible for service and entry of protective orders. Upon receipt of the order by the primary law-enforcement agency, the agency shall forthwith verify and enter any modification as necessary to the identifying information and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network established and maintained by the Department of State Police pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 52-12 et seq.) of Title 52 and the order shall be served forthwith on the allegedly abusing person in person as provided in § 16.1-264 and due return made to the court. However, if the order is issued by the circuit court, the clerk of the circuit court shall forthwith forward an attested copy of the order containing the respondent’s identifying information and the name, date of birth, sex, and race of each protected person provided to the court to the primary law-enforcement agency providing service and entry of protective orders and upon receipt of the order, the primary law-enforcement agency shall enter the name of the person subject to the order and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network established and maintained by the Department pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 52-12 et seq.) of Title 52 and the order shall be served forthwith upon the allegedly abusing person in person as provided in § 16.1-264. Upon service, the agency making service shall enter the date and time of service and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network and make due return to the court. The preliminary order shall specify a date for the dispositional hearing. The dispositional hearing shall be scheduled at the time of the hearing pursuant to this section, and shall be held within 60 days of this hearing. If an adjudicatory hearing is requested pursuant to subsection F, the dispositional hearing shall nonetheless be scheduled at the hearing pursuant to this section. All parties present at the hearing shall be given notice of the date and time scheduled for the dispositional hearing; parties who are not present shall be summoned to appear as provided in § 16.1-263.
  2. Nothing in this section enables the court to remove a child from the custody of his or her parents, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis, except as provided in § 16.1-278.2, and no order hereunder shall be entered against a person over whom the court does not have jurisdiction.
  3. Neither a law-enforcement agency, the attorney for the Commonwealth, a court nor the clerk’s office, nor any employee of them, may disclose, except among themselves, the residential address, telephone number, or place of employment of the person protected by the order or that of the family of such person, except to the extent that disclosure is (i) required by law or the Rules of the Supreme Court, (ii) necessary for law-enforcement purposes, or (iii) permitted by the court for good cause.
  4. Violation of any order issued pursuant to this section shall constitute contempt of court.
  5. The court shall forthwith, but in all cases no later than the end of the business day on which the order was issued, enter and transfer electronically to the Virginia Criminal Information Network the respondent’s identifying information and the name, date of birth, sex, and race of each protected person provided to the court. A copy of the preliminary protective order containing any such identifying information shall be forwarded forthwith to the primary law-enforcement agency responsible for service and entry of protective orders. Upon receipt of the order by the primary law-enforcement agency, the agency shall forthwith verify and enter any modification as necessary to the identifying information and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network established and maintained by the Department pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 52-12 et seq.) of Title 52 and the order shall be served forthwith on the allegedly abusing person in person as provided in § 16.1-264 and due return made to the court. However, if the order is issued by the circuit court, the clerk of the circuit court shall forthwith forward an attested copy of the order containing the respondent’s identifying information and the name, date of birth, sex, and race of each protected person provided to the court to the primary law-enforcement agency providing service and entry of protective orders and upon receipt of the order, the primary law-enforcement agency shall enter the name of the person subject to the order and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network established and maintained by the Department pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 52-12 et seq.) of Title 52 and the order shall be served forthwith on the allegedly abusing person in person as provided in § 16.1-264. Upon service, the agency making service shall enter the date and time of service and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network and make due return to the court. The preliminary order shall specify a date for the full hearing.

Upon receipt of the return of service or other proof of service pursuant to subsection C of § 16.1-264, the clerk shall forthwith forward an attested copy of the preliminary protective order to the primary law-enforcement agency and the agency shall forthwith verify and enter any modification as necessary into the Virginia Criminal Information Network as described above. If the order is later dissolved or modified, a copy of the dissolution or modification order shall also be attested, forwarded forthwith to the primary law-enforcement agency responsible for service and entry of protective orders, and upon receipt of the order by the primary law-enforcement agency, the agency shall forthwith verify and enter any modification as necessary to the identifying information and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police into the Virginia Criminal Information Network as described above and the order shall be served forthwith and due return made to the court.

  1. No fee shall be charged for filing or serving any petition or order pursuant to this section.”

If you are a person seeking child custody or defending a child custody case in Virginia, then the need to speak to a lawyer who has experience in handling child custody cases is critical. A skillful and diligent attorney, who has helped clients with child custody cases in Virginia, can help you review your case in depth and advise you on all the available potential grounds that are in your favor. If you hire an ethical lawyer, he will not guarantee a positive outcome of the case but will work diligently to enhance the odds in your favor. Our law firm in Virginia certainly has the necessary experience to help you with your child custody case.  The Attorneys from the SRIS Law Group will aggressively argue your case and give you their best.  For a consultation about your case, contact the SRIS Law Group immediately.  Our consultations remain confidential; therefore, do not worry and call now!

You can count on us to do our best to defend you to the best of our ability and get you the best result possible based on the facts of your case.

Some of the child custody issues our clients deal with in Virginia:

  • How to get emergency child custody in Virginia?
  • What does joint child custody mean in Virginia?
  • How do I file a child custody appeal in Virginia?
  • What is the uniform child custody act in Virginia?
  • What are the child custody and visitation laws in Virginia?
  • What is the Virginia child custody age of choice?
  • How do I fight a child custody battle in Virginia?
  • Dealing with a divorce in Virginia and child support
  • How do I find the best child custody attorney in Virginia?
  • How does cohabitation affect my Virginia child custody case?
  • How does domestic violence affect my child custody case?
  • How do I get an emergency hearing for a child custody case in Virginia?
  • What are the emergency child custody laws in Virginia?
  • What are the child custody laws in Virginia for unmarried parents?
  • What are the child custody laws in Virginia and moving out of state?
  • What are the child custody laws in Virginia for fathers?
  • What are the child custody laws in Virginia for military personnel?
  • How do I get a child custody modification in Virginia?
  • What are the child custody relocation laws in Virginia?
  • Can I get a free child custody lawyer in Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyers in Manassas, Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyers in Northern Virginia?
  • How do I get a child custody order in Virginia?
  • What types of child custody can I get in Virginia?
  • What is the Virginia child custody statute?
  • What are my visitation rights in a child custody case?
  • How do I file a child custody show cause in Virginia?
  • How do I get temporary child custody in Virginia?
  • How do I file a motion to amend child custody in Virginia?
  • How do I petition for child custody in Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyer in Prince William, Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyer in Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyer in Arlington, Virginia?
  • How do I find the best child custody lawyer in Loudoun, Virginia?