In the state of Virginia, the court must consider factors that are in the child’s best interest when deciding on custody petitions. These factors include the age, mental and physical health of the child; the physical and mental health of the parent; the relationship between the parent and the child; the parent’s contributions as a caregiver for the child and his willingness to continue providing that role. Moreover, if deemed old enough, the court can also consider the child’s preference.
Both married and divorced parents may petition for custody in the state of Virginia. Married parents can either file for a Petition for Custody in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, or include the issue of custody as they file for divorce in the Circuit Courts. While divorced parents can simply file for a Petition for Custody in the J&DR Court. As gender is no longer a relevant presumption under Virginia law, the parents must consider their financial contributions and relationship with the child to understand the chances they have of possibly being awarded custody. Moreover, the state of Virginia allows for other persons of interest to petition for custody. These include a close family member such as a sibling, grandparent or uncle. However, they must provide evidence of circumstances that would make both parents unfit to retain custody of the child, which would include mental health issues or domestic violence.
Once all of the relevant paperwork has been completed, an initial hearing is scheduled to take place a few weeks later. If both parents are still unable to agree on custody and the initial hearing reaches no result, a trial will take place one to three months after the hearing. During the trial, the judge must consider the aforementioned factors in order to determine what is in the best interest of the child, which is the paramount factor in determining custody issues in Virginia.
The judge can either decide to award sole custody to one parent or joint custody to the both of them. Sole custody refers to gaining both the legal and physical custody of the child, while joint custody means they are shared between the parents. In the case of sole custody, the non-custodial parent will be entitled to visitation rights with their child. However, in the case of parents that have a history of domestic abuse or a significant criminal record, the court may either restrict their visitation rights or terminate their parental rights. Visitation rights are restricted by means of supervised visitation, which means a court-ordered third party must be present when the parent and child meet, and that they must meet in a neutral place. Supervised visitation is not always permanent and a parent might be granted unsupervised visitation by partaking and completing in domestic violence or anger management classes.
Furthermore, parents awarded sole custody may have their decision to relocate to another artist be revoked by the court if the other parent’s objection to it convinces the court that it will diminish their parenting time and in turn will not be in the child’s best interest.
If you need a Virginia child custody lawyer to help you with your child custody case in Virginia, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Virginia child custody attorneys can help you.