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Child Custody and Visitation
When children are involved in a divorce or legal separation, decisions that must be made about child custody can be extremely trying and emotional. When you and your spouse consider your child or children’s future, you will likely have a lot of questions and will be concerned about making the best decisions for yourselves and your children. You need an experienced Virginia family law attorney working for you who will guide you through the child custody process. I will take the time to address your concerns and educate you about your options. For over twenty three years, I have been representing clients in child custody and visitation cases.
I handle cases involving:
- Establishing and modifying custody
- Visitation agreements
- Move-aways or child relocations
- Requests for modification or enforcement
- Supervised visitation
- Restrictions on behavior when the child is present
- Mental health evaluations
- Guardian ad litem appointment
- Child support
Assisting You with Child Custody and Child Visitation Issues
Custody is defined as one or both parents sharing responsibility for a child. Often, people immediately assume that custody means physical custody, which is defined as the physical location at which the child or children reside. Physical custody may be granted to both parents or to just one, depending on the circumstances of the case. Legal custody is a separate consideration. Legal custody involves the right to make important decisions regarding the child, including education, health and welfare.
Nothing is simple when children are involved, and above all else, the court strives to make decisions that are best for the children. Child custody and visitation rights are issues that need to be discussed with a competent and qualified family law attorney.
To help protect your children from the anxiety of disputes, I will work closely with you to pursue options that avoid long, expensive court battles. Because I have restricted my practice to family law, I can bring insight to help you come to an agreement.
Types of Child Custody
In Virginia, the mother and father have equal rights when it comes to child custody. Contrary to popular belief, there is no bias against fathers in favor of mothers. Both parents are considered to be fit and proper custodians of children unless proven otherwise. Courts consider the various types of custody and visitation rights, and the decision may be joint physical custody, joint legal custody, sole custody, visitation or supervised visitation.
In joint custody, responsibility for the child or children is shared by the parents, and they live with each for a period of time. Joint custody is usually successful in instances where the parties are able to work together for the betterment of their children.
Joint legal custody is a legal arrangement where neither parent is chosen to be the sole decision maker for the children. However, the court may give one parent the ability to make certain decisions, based on a number of factors. Joint legal custody is predicated on the wishes of the parents to share decision making for their children. Joint legal custody is the norm, unless there is some important reason to do otherwise.
Sole custody grants one parent the right to be responsible for the child’s education, general welfare, religion, health care and other issues as they arise in the child’s life. Sole custody is usually awarded when the court feels there would be too much fighting between the parents if they shared decision making responsibility. The parent awarded sole custody can make whatever decisions he or she feels necessary, regardless of the wishes of the other parent.
Visitation is a term I do not like. Parents don’t visit their children, they have custodial care and time. Unfortunately, this is the term that is standard in family law practice. It refers to the time the non-custodial parent spends “visiting” with and parenting the child. The visitation schedule is determined based on many factors that are unique to each family, such as child safety, child care history, school location, work schedules of the spouses and the child’s personal preferences. Supervised visitation is usually granted in cases where the safety of a child may be in question.
As a parent, I understand how emotions can flare up as a result of discussions or conflicts regarding child custody. I will help you find the best possible solution for the appropriate custody schedule/arrangement and resolve your case as quickly as possible. Whatever disagreements you and the other parent of your child may have, I can help you make arrangements that are in the best interests of your child and that will help you begin on a positive path to co-parenting.
My firm focuses on your family. Contact me to discuss your case.