Life can quickly become overwhelming during the complicated and emotionally-charged process of losing or gaining custody of your children. You want the best outcome for your child but are unsure of how to prove this to the court or what a court is even looking for when evaluating your case.
Your custody agreement might be worth contesting for any number of reasons. Let the, top-rated, aggressive, and passionate attorneys at Melone Hatley, P.C. help you pursue your child custody case call our law office at [phone-nunmber] or go online and fill out our contact form.
This guide will teach you how to identify and avoid the ten most common mistakes people make in a divorce.
When you have children, a divorce impacts more than just two people. It affects the entire family and determining who gets custody is filled with challenges. In Virginia, custody is first and foremost based on the best interests of the child. Custody will favor the parents even if other parties, such as grandparents, seek these rights.
While the court does not favor one parent over the other, a court will consider the children to be those of the mother when the parents are unmarried. To be considered, the father must prove the children are his by signing birth certificates, making admissions in court, or proving paternity. Fathers seeking to assert rights to a child will find it best to consult with an attorney experienced in family law matters.
There are different types of both physical and legal custody in Virginia that parents can seek. Grandparents and others are not prioritized, so the focus remains on an arrangement between the parents.
Legal custody essentially involves a parent’s right to make decisions and plans for the child, including education, medical care, discipline, and other matters involving the welfare of that child. Physical custody arrangements refer to which parent the child lives with and when.
More specifically, there are different types of joint or sole custody arrangements branching out from these two main categories, including the following:
With temporary custody, the child lives with one parent temporarily until the court can establish permanent custody. This short-term arrangement is usually appointed during a pendente lite hearing or by an agreement of the involved parties.
Both parents share the equal right to make essential decisions for a child under joint legal custody. These decisions can involve the overall health, education, and individual welfare of the child.
Sole legal custody refers to one parent’s right to make important decisions that affect the health, education, and welfare of the child. The noncustodial parent will have no input in these decisions.
When the children live with just one parent in a single location, it is called sole physical custody. The other parent may still have legal custody or visitation rights.
Primary physical custody results in the child living with one designated parent the majority of the time while spending a smaller amount of time with another party, usually the other parent. The parent with primary physical custody, more often than not, will have the ability to make day-to-day decisions for the child’s needs.
Although rare, split custody does exist in Virginia. This type of custody refers to parents having custody of different children. The father may have custody of one and the mother another. Considerations that factor into this type of custody arrangement include the ages and maturity levels of the children and the preferences they express.
Shared custody is when the parents spend time with their children on a more equal schedule.
For families in Hampton Roads, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court will hear child custody, support, and visitation cases. For parents who do not have a previous order from a different court, a petition is filed here requesting either custody or visitation agreements. A family law judge will hear your case and make a determination. However, if you are determining custody and visitation due to divorce, your matter can be heard in the Circuit Court along with your divorce.
When determining the custody of the child, the courts will look to the best interests of the child standard in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. Factors that will be a part of the decision include the following.
The court will look at the age and mental/physical condition of the child and of each parent. Consideration for a child’s changing development needs will factor in as well.
The needs of each child will be considered when determining custody. These needs may include relationships with siblings, extended family members, and peers.
The court will look at any history of domestic violence, real or threatened child abuse, personal injury, or other criminal defense matters. If a parent is deemed neglectful or abusive, the court can deny or limit visitation or custodial rights.
What the relationship is like between the child and each parent will factor into the court’s decision. Also, the role each parent held in caretaking prior to the seeking of a custody arrangement order, as well as the future role they are to play, is considered.
In some custody cases, a judge will appoint a guardian ad litem to serve as an independent voice in making recommendations in the best interest of the child. This guardian ad litem will be an attorney with the capability to conduct investigations, schedule interviews, and be present at court hearings and mediations.
Visitation is a legal issue and refers to when parents will spend time with each child. The court will consider the same factors as when deciding on custody to determine a visitation schedule. Schedules will vary and depend on factors such as a parent’s work schedule, the distance between the two parents, and the child’s schedule for school.
Other parties can seek visitation of a child as well. You will often see this with grandparents, close relatives, and stepparents. The court may also deny visitation rights to either parent or outside party if it is not in the child’s best interest.
When petitioning the court for visitation, the following may need consideration:
In simple cases where the parents live near each other, parents may receive a court order for a 50/50 shared schedule. The schedule can also include such specifications as one week on, one week off, or any other time variation. An exchange of weekends is often a common part of schedules as well.
The court will examine what motives may lay behind a visitation request, and the judge may deny one where the requestor has, in some way, put the child at risk in the past. These are reasons to consider seeking legal representation for visitation requests as well as for custody arrangements.
Child support calculations follow a defined formula in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This formula is based on the premise that children should have the same level of support that would normally occur if both parents lived together.
The specific type of information considered when making a decision includes, but is not limited to, the following.
The combined income, from all sources, of both parents in the child support case.
When spousal support payments also exist, this will most likely be considered and can affect the final support amounts.
Assuming that medical expenses are covered by both parents, medical insurance for the child will factor into the calculation for child support.
Child expenses may include daycare fees and other daily or periodic needs of the child.
Are you struggling with a child custody issue? Schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators today!
A parent seeking to change or amend a custody agreement must start by filing a motion with the same Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. The family law judge will then review and evaluate the change request, incorporating the same considerations as the court that decided on the custody initially. These considerations include the best interests of each child and, if age appropriate, the child’s current preferences.
You may file more than one request for custody modification in Virginia but must always include a valid reason for doing so.
When it comes to your children, you naturally want what is best for them. To help achieve this, you need an experienced family law attorney in your corner. The child custody lawyers with Melone Hatley, P.C. have the experience and more to seek the most favorable solution for your family and also represent you throughout the process, including any future modifications to the custody agreement.
We know who you choose to represent you and your family is an important decision, and here are the reasons why Melone Hatley, P.C. is the right choice.
When you are feeling the strain of child custody and visitation issues, the stress can become overwhelming at times. When concern over a child’s safety while in your partner’s care exists, you are even more troubled–and an emergency motion may be necessary which you can read more about here.
Whatever the situation with your family, the experienced and caring Norfolk child custody family lawyers with Melone Hatley, P.C. law office are here to help you find a better way. To request an appointment in Norfolk, Virginia, call our law office today at 800.479.8124 or go online and fill out our contact form.
Disclaimer: All child custody cases are unique and the information on this page should not be taken as legal advice. You should speak with an attorney before seeking legal action.
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