Under the law of the state of Virginia, divorced parents are able file for custody over their minor child. However, in the case of filing for custody between married parents, the parent is only allowed to request for custody if the parties are not cohabitating and are living under different roofs. A custody order can also be requested if the parents are unwed, but the parent is in a relationship with the other parent.
Firstly, the parent must verify that the child meets the residency laws for Virginia custody cases. The child must have a lived in the state of Virginia over a period of no less than six months consecutively. An appointment is then made with the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court to acquire custody forms. However, if the parents are filing for a divorce, a custody form could be obtained from the Circuit Court. Thenceforth, a petition is arranged that highlights the aspects that is in the best favor of the child that Virginia uses.
The aspects are considered by the judge which then leads to custody, these include:
- The child’s age
- The physical and mental state of the child
- The parent’s age
- The physical and mental state of the parents
- The relationship between the child and the parent
- The relationship between his or her siblings and extended family
- The parent’s history as caregivers
- The parent’s motivation to support the child’s link with the other parent
- The child’s preference
- Any history of prior family mistreatment
In the situation of Domestic Violence, in accordance with the laws of Virginia, a court might restrain from granting a joint custody plan and limit the abusive parent’s interaction or visitation with his or her child. Otherwise, a judge might demand a supervised visitation with a minor child or, in severe cases; the judge might eliminate the abusive parent’s contact entirely and the other parent would gain full custody.
As mentioned above, a supervised visitation scheme could be managed and the abusive parent is strictly allowed to visit his or her child only in the company and supervision of a court-designated third-party and it is common that the visitation takes place in an agreed upon location by the three parties. However, if the abusive parent completes a domestic or an anger management class, the court might grant the abusive parent unsupervised visitation.
Secondly, in Virginia, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act requires the parent to complete an affidavit that specifies information regarding the child.
The affidavit should consist of:
- • The addresses where the child has previously lived
- • The people, excluding the child that lived in the same home
- • The primary caregiver at every location
- • Any court cases that the child might have been involved in
Additionally, a summon is prepared, informing the other party of the deadline to respond to the petition. The documents are filed with either the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court or the Circuit Court. Three copies are supposed to be presented to the clerk of the filing, one for the court, one for the parents, and one for the other party. Finally, the parent pays the fee and if the parent are unable to do so, the parent can request a waiver for an affidavit from the court.
Lastly, the documents are served to the other parent by a law enforcement officer or can be mailed to the other parent if he or she lives out of the state of Virginia and verify with the court that the other parent has received the document.