Whether you are married or not, splitting from your partner can take an emotional toll on you. It can also be emotionally heavy for your children. No matter the cause of divorce or separation, your children need your support during this trying time. The passionate attorneys at Melone Hatley, P.C. understand the importance of being with your children. We want to help you seek a fair custody agreement or modification that meets your needs.
This guide will teach you how to identify and avoid the ten most common mistakes people make in a divorce.
When it comes to your children, you need a custody attorney who understands your needs and is knowledgeable in all legal aspects of custody cases in Virginia. The following are reasons for choosing the child custody attorneys with Melone Hatley, P.C., when seeking legal representation for your custody case.
When a divorce occurs, child custody becomes a primary issue and can be stressful and difficult for all involved. In determining custody, Virginia law will consider what is in the best interests of the child, as provided for under Virginia Code Section 20-124.3.
In cases where the parents are unmarried, Virginia law considers the children to be of the mothers. Establishing paternity requires that the father sign a birth certificate. Should the father seek to assert rights to the child, it is best they consult a family law attorney.
There are different types of physical and legal custody that parents may seek in Chesapeake, Virginia as well as options for sole custody or joint custody. It is also important to note that custody goes primarily to the parents of the children in question and that the laws do not consider grandparents a priority.
Types of custody include the following:
The child lives with the parent temporarily until the court has a chance to instate permanent custody. Temporary custody is generally established during the pendent lite hearing or in an agreement among the parties involved.
Both parents are granted equal rights to make major decisions involving the child, which may relate to health, education, and overall welfare.
One designated parent will make all the major decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and overall welfare. The noncustodial parent will have no rights when it comes to making such decisions for the child.
The child resides full-time with one of the parents in one location, while the other one may have legal custody or visitation rights.
The child lives with a designated parent the majority of the time.
The parents share time with their children on a more equal arrangement.
Chesapeake child custody, support, and visitation cases are heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations (District) Court of Virginia. Those who have not already obtained an order from any other court can file a petition requesting custody or visitation here in the court service unit. For amendments to an already granted court order, a Motion to Amend must be filed at the clerk’s office window at this court.
During a court hearing in the Hampton Roads area, each parent will have a chance to present information, including facts and arguments. The court will take these into consideration but will determine custody based on the best interests of the child. Factors for this determination include but are not limited to the following.
The ages and mental health condition of each child and the parents themselves will be considered. The changing developmental needs in the child’s life will also be taken into account.
A close look at the particular needs of the child will play an important role, including relationships, if applicable, with any siblings, extended family members, or others.
The court will look for any history of domestic violence, personal injury, threatened or real child abuse, or other legal issues. Incidences involving criminal law or criminal defense of a parent factor in as well. If any of these are found, a denial or limit of custodial or visitation rights may occur against the neglectful or violent parent.
The determination will take into consideration the relationship between each parent and the child, including previous and future care need roles.
In some cases, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to help determine what is in the best interests of the child. In Virginia, a guardian ad litem is a judge-appointed attorney who provides independent recommendations when it comes to custody. This guardian ad litem may conduct investigations and interviews, report to the court, and participate in mediations or court hearings. Read more about what you can expect from a guardian ad litem here: https://www.melonelawpc.com/gaurdian-ad-litem/
Visitation differs from custody and is a way to define and schedule when each parent will spend time with the child. The factors used to determine custody will also be applied here. Visitation schedules can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case, such as one parent’s work schedule or the distance traveled between locations.
The court can also grant visitation rights to third parties, such as grandparents, close relatives, or stepparents. The court can also deny visitation to a parent or third party under specific circumstances. If you have concerns pertaining to the visitation rights of any third parties, it is beneficial to seek legal advice from an experienced visitation lawyer.
When determining the level of child support in Virginia, the court considers the ideal that children with parents living apart from each other should have the same or similar level of support as if those parents continued living together. Calculating Virginia child support can become complicated and will need to take into account several factors, such as the following:
For the child support calculation, all sources of income for both parents will be compiled.
Any alimony, or spousal support payments, will factor into the calculation and may alter the amount.
While Virginia law assumes parents will both remain responsible for a child’s medical expenses, health insurance costs for the child will factor into the calculated child support amount.
Expenses required to care for the child, including daycare, will also be considered.
Understandably, as time goes on, children grow up, and circumstances can change. As such, there are times when you may need to make a change to a custody agreement.
The Hampton Roads parent seeking the change to a granted custody agreement must file a motion with the courts. A judge will evaluate this motion, taking into consideration the same factors as the court did when initially deciding on custody. The judge will also determine the potential impact of the change or modification and measure it against the best interests of the child.
If you determine that a change is necessary or beneficial, hiring an experienced family law attorney is a good idea. Prior to filing for a change, your attorney can evaluate your circumstances and help prepare a concise reason the request is in the best interest of the child. Your attorney can also serve as an intermediary between you, your spouse, or your spouse’s attorney.
Child custody cases are often difficult to navigate, leading to emotionally charged moments and legally challenging ones as well. At Melone Hatley, P.C., we put your family first and help you find the best custody arrangement for your circumstances. We also offer free, helpful resources, including eBooks and advice videos, to help you through these difficult times. Whenever you are ready, call our office at 800.479.8124 , or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment.
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