Serving the Needs of Virginia Families for over 25 years
The custody of the parties' minor children is one of the most difficult issues that arise in family law cases. As a divorce attorneys and family law attorneys, we assist the parties in determining where the children will live, who will make decisions for them, how often each party will see them, and how much child support will be paid. These are some of the many issues that must be addressed when dealing with child custody and visitation. The safety of the children is paramount, and the standard by which the court will make a determination of the issues pertaining to custody is in the best interest of the children.
Child custody includes decisions regarding both legal custody and physical custody of the children. Legal custody is the authority to make important decisions concerning the children's long-term, non-emergency welfare, such as child care providers, school district selection, educational decisions, and medical decisions. Legal custody can be either joint, with both parents making decisions regardless of the child's primary physical address; or sole, with one parent retaining that responsibility, typically after consultation with the other parent. Physical custody pertains to where a child actually resides on any given day and the time-sharing arrangement between the parents.
Physical custody and visitation are determined in Virginia according to the "best interests" of the children standard. The "best interests of the child" is the governing criteria in any judicial determination of custody and the courts must consider the following factors when making that determination:
Once an initial determination of custody or visitation has been made, either by the court or by agreement, a change in custody or visitation can be made in two situations. First, the parties can agree on a change in the custodial arrangement; or, if the parties do not agree, the court may make a modification, but only upon proof that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the last order of the court, and that such change in circumstances justifies a modification.
As child custody lawyers, we can help our clients assess the situation and explain what evidence and witnesses might be helpful to succeed in any negotiation or trial. It is helpful if the client can provide a calendar or summary showing each party's historical interaction with the minor children to the initial attorney-client meeting.
Contact us at (703) 691-3066 to learn more and discuss how you may need legal counsel and representation.