Norfolk Custody

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Custody Attorney in Norfolk

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.

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Spouse Getting Custody of Child

How Is Child Custody Determined in Norfolk, Virginia?

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.

Types of Child Custody

What Are the Different Types of Custody in Norfolk, Virginia?

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:

Temporary Custody

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.

Joint Legal Custody

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

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.

Sole Physical Custody

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

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.

Split Custody

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

Shared custody is when the parents spend time with their children on a more equal schedule.

Do you need legal assistance with a child custody case? Contact our office today or schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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father with custody During Separation

Child Custody Cases Are Heard in Which Court?

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.

How Do Norfolk Courts Determine the Custody of a Child?

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.

Age and Mental Health

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.

Needs of Child

The needs of each child will be considered when determining custody. These needs may include relationships with siblings, extended family members, and peers.

History of Violence

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.

Parent’s Relationship to Child

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.

Custody & Visitation fighting parents

How is Visitation Determined in Norfolk, Virginia?

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:

  • Will the visitation be enjoyable for each child?
  • Will the visitation encourage bonding between the parent and child?
  • Will the visitation make sure that the custodial parent grants access to the child?
  • Does the child want the visitation (if old enough to make such a preference)?

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.

How is Child Support Calculated in Norfolk?

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.

Alimony/Spousal Support

When spousal support payments also exist, this will most likely be considered and can affect the final support amounts.

Medical Insurance of Child

Assuming that medical expenses are covered by both parents, medical insurance for the child will factor into the calculation for child support.

Child Expenses

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!

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How Do I Change My Custody Agreement in Norfolk, Virginia?

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.

Need an Experienced Custody Attorney? Choose Melone Hatley

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.

  • Experienced and Aggressive. We have years of experience in handling and mediating child custody and visitation matters. When necessary, we can also be aggressive to obtain the results you need to provide the best solution for the family.
  • Highly rated by clients. Our clients make us the top-rated attorneys in Virginia, including here in Norfolk. Satisfied clients cite our ability to remain efficient, provide thorough legal services, and give realistic and practical legal advice in a caring manner.
  • Big law firm in a boutique setting. We combine the experience and the resources of a big law firm into a boutique setting, so you get all you need with one family law firm.
  • Individualized approach. Every case is different in one way or another, and our child custody attorneys understand this entirely. Likewise, we always take an individualized approach when dealing with each case. We give you one-on-one attention, attending to your specific goals and how we can meet your needs.
  • Client-centered. We realize that not every parent is the same. How you deal with the emotional issues revolving around a custody issue is yours alone, and we value where you are in the process. The attorney-client relationship is paramount to us, and we will always remain centered on your needs and goals. To help our clients, we offer free eBooks and resource guides surrounding family law matters and other practice areas.
  • Great locations of our offices. We provide Norfolk families with legal representation at our conveniently located Virginia Beach office. See our lawyer directory  here.
Custody & Visitation - mother and daughter

Do You Believe Your Children Are Safe in Your Partner’s Care?

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.

Need help? You are not alone. Schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators today!

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Schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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