With varying schedules and often a bit of resentment, establishing the custody of a child can often prove difficult for co-parents. But even after custody has finally been agreed upon, certain factors such as weather can complicate things further.
In the state of Virginia, family courts always try to protect and promote what is in the best interest of the child or children involved. These orders are also generally laid out in consideration of school cancellations and inclement weather. Therefore if inclement weather would make the transport of the child risky, the court will most likely support a parent’s decision not to transport the child if the decision has been made in good faith.
Weather Predictions vs. Reality
Since schools will sometimes cancel classes in anticipation of inclement weather (generally a snowstorm), there are times when that weather never actually occurs. If the custody agreement fails to specify what to do in such a situation, the court will always look to what would be a reasonable decision. Therefore if a parent plans to keep the child an extra day due to the forecasted bad weather, the court will look to whether this decision was made in good faith and in the best interest of the child in determining whether custody has been violated.
What Happens If Plans Are Cancelled?
Unfortunately, sometimes the weather can throw a wrench into custodial plans and parenting time. For example, if a child is supposed to be spending Christmas with one parent out of state but their flight is canceled and cannot be rescheduled until after Christmas has passed, there are a couple of options.
It is always easier to co-parent when both parents can be amicable. If agreed upon, a child’s parents can modify an existing order to create a new, fair schedule. For example, if the child’s flight was canceled and cannot be rescheduled until after Christmas, the parents can agree to swap Christmas for New Year’s. However, even when parents agree upon a modified schedule it is always a good idea to maintain a record of these agreements in writing. This can include texts and emails. Ultimately though, it’s important to have proof that the decision was agreed upon by both parties.
While coming to an agreement on your own would save both time and money, unfortunately, many co-parents are unable to agree upon a lot. When such is the case, parents can petition Virginia’s family court to adjudicate the matter.
The court will then look at the same factors as the original custody order to determine what’s in the child’s best interest. The court may then choose to adjust schedules or even support payments when necessary.
If a parent is found to have violated the current custody order in bad faith, he or she can be held in contempt of court and can receive a fine, community service, and sometimes, even time in jail.
Since adjudication can be rather expensive, another option is for both parents to go to mediation, Mediation, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), allows for a third party to help both sides to reach an amicable modification of custody. Since you are dealing with a mediator and not the court, you can save time and money by using mediation instead of litigation.
Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC Can Help Those Dealing with Child Custody and Other Divorce Issues in VA
If you are currently dealing with child custody issues, it can be an extremely sensitive and emotional time. It is important not to let your emotions get the best of you. Your child should always be a priority. However, you need to remember that as a parent, you are entitled to certain rights. Your children are extremely important. That’s why consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced Family Law attorney can make all the difference.
At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we understand and have empathy for those dealing with child custody proceedings. We work with our clients to ensure that they get what they deserve. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!