In the case of child custody, it is not about winning or losing. Your child is not a prize in a game. They are precious to you, and you very naturally want full custody. You believe you are the right person to raise and care for them. However, child custody cases often seem to favor moms over dads. You can take steps to improve your chances of receiving full custody of your child. The experienced child custody attorneys at Melone Hatley, P.C. have decades of experience as top-rated Virginia lawyers, and we are here to help you win child custody in your case.
To be in a good position to secure custody as a father, it is necessary to understand how custody works in the state. The two types of custody in Virginia are legal and physical custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives. The parent with whom the child lives most of the time is considered the custodial parent for physical custody purposes.
Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the important decisions about the child’s life. This means where the child will go for child care while the parents work if they are pre-school age. It means extracurricular activities, healthcare, where they go to school, and other essential activities and decisions related to their health and well-being.
Even among each type of custody, there are variations on how much custody is extended to each party. Joint custody versus sole custody describes which parent has the lion’s share of control over the child, either legally or physically. With joint physical custody, both parents share parenting duties equally. A child may live half the time with one parent and half their time with the other.
When it comes to legal custody, family courts usually prefer joint legal custody, where both parents have an equal say in the vital decision-making in their child’s life. These decisions are sometimes written into the final custody order, saving parents the battle in the future. Parents may agree, for example, where a child will go to school and who their pediatrician might be, and this can be a part of the final custody order.
When it comes to joint physical custody, the time a child spends with each parent need not be equal, using a visitation schedule instead. More often, it sees the child spend a 60/40, 70/30, or some other division of parenting time, with the parent who has more physical time with the child designated the custodial parent.
Split custody is a rare arrangement in Virginia. This involves parents with multiple children and sees one parent having primary custody of one child while the other has primary custody of another. Split custody arrangements usually occur based on the age and maturity of the children and their expressed preference for one or the other parent.
The Code of Virginia explicitly states that mothers should not be favored over fathers in child custody cases. Courts are supposed to evaluate every single case uniquely and with an unbiased eye. They are supposed to consider the best interests of the child above all other things. They are required, when appropriate, to ensure that children get regular, continuing, and frequent time with both parents, and that both parents share in the child-rearing responsibilities.
If the courts feel that a child is of sufficient age and maturity, they may listen to the child’s preferences before handing down a custody order. The child’s choice, however, will always be weighed against their well-being.
For example, if a child prefers to live with one parent because that parent allows them to stay up late, play video games, and does not require them to go to school, while the other one makes them attend school and do homework, the child’s opinion will not be weighed as heavily.
Despite the rule of law, courts often appear to favor mothers over fathers in these cases. If you are a dad fighting for custody of your child, having a child custody lawyer in your corner is always preferred. Contact the divorce and family law attorneys at Melone Hatley for representation, legal advice, and help today. We will build your case to establish your abilities as a father and help the courts understand that your child is safest in your care. Call 1-800-479-8124 or use our easy online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Your best chances of receiving custody of your child involve you following all court orders. Do not assume that you will win the case, and do not begin behaving as though you have. Continue to abide by existing custody orders until the courts deliver a new order. Other steps you can take include the following:
When you engage with your former spouse, be respectful and do not get combative. When you speak to your child about their other parent, remain calm and do not try to turn your child against them. Remember, whatever issues exist surrounding the custody of a child, the child most likely loves both of you. Your child needs to see both parents as positive forces in their life whenever possible.
Prove that you value your parenting time by not only using your visitation time to its fullest but by sticking strictly to the schedule. Be there on time every time. If you need to adjust your work schedule, you should do so if possible. If you cannot change your work schedule, it may be time to revisit the custody agreement to modify the visitation schedule.
If your ex-spouse is engaging in behavior that is contrary to the best interest of the child, you should carefully document that behavior. This includes suspected domestic violence, abuse, substance use, neglect, or misuse of child support payments. Keep any incriminating text messages, emails, or online communication on your phone. Keep track of medical records. Do not, however, quiz your child about it, and do not record your ex-spouse without their knowledge.
As a responsible father, you should not do several activities around your child or discuss in front of your child. Remember, a child custody case is about what is best for the child, not what is best for you. These activities are contrary to the health and well-being of your child, are not a part of your parental responsibilities, and will harm your chances during the child custody battle.
Again, remember that the parent-child relationship is vital for both parents. It is not your place to try and turn your children against your former spouse. Not only is it bad for the children, but it can also harm your battle for custody of the children.
This should go without saying: substance abuse can be a ticket to losing a custody hearing. If you are prone to substance abuse, you should seek help and consider the best custody arrangement for your child. Your family law attorney can help you in this matter without judgment.
Your child may not even understand child support, and discussing it in front of them can confuse and upset them. It can also create tension between your child and their other parent, which is unhealthy for them.
You may disagree with the original court order surrounding your divorce. Regardless, that order is legally binding. By refusing to follow it, you will not ingratiate yourself with the family court judges who have decision-making power over your current fight for full custody.
When parents fight for custody of their children, it can get contentious and damaging to the child’s life. Not every child custody case has to go before the family court to get a resolution. Family law allows for a mediation process, which permits parents to sit down with a third party, often a judge or child custody lawyer, whose job is to act as a calming, neutral voice.
A mediator can help the two parents resolve issues of joint custody, sole custody, and parenting plans that both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent can accept. The mediator does not directly work for either spouse, so they can cut through contentious issues and help both parents see what is best for the child.
Having a child custody and divorce lawyer in your corner is vital to fighting for your rights in child custody cases. Spouses often begin thinking they can handle things without outside help, but cases can quickly spiral out of control as each parent fights for their rights to the child. The right divorce attorneys can help to keep you on task and help you to consider what is best for your children as opposed to what is best for you.
The divorce attorneys at the law firm of Melone Hatley offer legal advice and a calm head when you need one the most. We bring decades of experience in these cases to the table and help you get to the best resolution for your entire family. We fight for you every step of the way and are the caring, compassionate, and stable ally you need. We understand that fathers often feel that their voices are not heard. Our attorneys are fathers themselves with a passion for protecting the rights of men fighting for fair time with their children. With offices across Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, we offer both a listening ear without judgment and a proven tenacity.
Just because you are a father does not mean you do not have rights or carry fewer rights than your child’s mother. Virginia law guarantees that each case is viewed fairly with an unbiased perspective. When working with our legal team, you will feel heard, respected, and confident in our abilities to secure custody.
Besides award-winning representation, we also offer free eBooks, advice videos, and easy online scheduling. If you are a father facing a difficult child custody battle, do not lose hope. Contact us at 800-479-8124 or fill out our online contact form for an appointment today.
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