Parents who are going through a divorce may worry about Virginia’s child custody process. Losing custody of a child can be a daunting thought. Parents may wonder what will happen if they have less time with their children. Loving parents might worry that custody agreements might negatively impact their child’s mental and physical health. When the divorce process becomes contentious, custody issues can become challenging for all parties involved. However, experienced Virginia family law attorneys help parents walk through the process seamlessly.
If you are a parent who needs assistance with a Virginia child custody matter, our attorneys can help. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, our experienced Fairfax family law attorneys understand the sensitive nature of child custody issues. We listen to our clients one-on-one so we can thoroughly understand their priorities and goals. Our attorneys fight hard for the best interests of our clients and their children. Contact our Virginia family law firm today to discuss how one of our experienced attorneys can help you and your children.
Legal Child Custody under Virginia Law
Virginia family courts usually award legal custody jointly. Legal custody typically refers to the right of parents to make the following three types of decisions:
- Non-emergency medical care decisions
- Religious upbringing decisions
- Educational decisions
Physical Child Custody under Virginia Law
Alternatively, physical custody refers to the location at which the child will spend most of his or her time. One parent can have primary physical custody, both parents can have some amount of shared physical custody, or both parents can have evenly split physical custody. The parent who spends less time with the child is called the non-custodial parent. One parent has primary physical custody of the child when the other child, when the parent who has the child less spends 89 or fewer days with the child.
Parents have shared physical custody when the non-custodial parent spends at least 90 days or more with the child each year. Parents with shared physical custody will often pay less in child support. Some parents push for shared custody not because they are planning on actually providing more support to the child but because they do not want to spend as much money on child support.
When Is Shared Custody Preferrable?
Many Virginia judges view shared physical child custody as favorable. The best-case scenario for shared physical custody agreements is that both parents become actively engaged and supporting co-parents. Parents who are interested in a shared custody agreement can draft a plan and ask the family court judge to enter it as an order. When co-parents have a difficult creating a parenting plan, some judges require mediation. However, shared custody isn’t always the best scenario. Our attorneys can help ensure that the family court judge is informed when he makes a determination.
Split Physical Custody Arrangements in Virginia
Split physical child custody agreements have become rare in Virginia. In these agreements, one parent takes full custody of one child, and the other parent receives full custody of the other child. In some cases, a judge will award a split physical custody agreement at the request of the parents, or because it is in the child’s best interest.
Parenting Time in Virginia Child Custody Cases
When considering parenting plans, many Virginia residents assume that one parent will have the children during the week and one parent will have them on the weekends. However, the allocation of parenting time varies drastically between families. What works for some co-parents may not work for all parents. For example, if one parent travels frequently, a more creative parenting time plan may be required.
In some circumstances, a biological or adoptive parent cannot parent, so a third-party needs to step in and help. Hiring an attorney can be beneficial for the third-party parent as he or she tries to navigate the Virginia family court system. Lawyers can advocate skillfully on behalf of the child and their third-party guardian when it comes to visitation disputes and other custody issues.
Relocating with a Child
When one parent must move away from Virginia, a family court judge will typically adjust the parenting plan. Sometimes, the parent who plans to remain in Virginia will oppose the move and does not want to enter into negotiations with the relocating parent. In these situations, the parent who plans to stay may need to litigate the issue in a Virginia family court. This is where the Fairfax family law attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy can help as well.
Virginia family court judges do have the authority to keep a custodial parent from relocating with children. Judges determine the issue by considering the following three factors:
- Is the relocating parent moving for economic reasons such as a job transfer?
- Will the move result in additional familial support for the relocating custodial parent?
- Will the child receive additional educational opportunities by moving?
Ultimately, the judge will decide the issue in the best interest of the child by analyzing the specific factors in each child’s case.
Our Virginia Child Custody Attorneys Can Help
A parent’s relationship with his or her children is precious, and child custody is one of the most heavily litigated areas of family law in Virginia. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, our Fairfax-based family law attorneys have extensive experience helping our clients negotiate Virginia child custody matters. We understand the importance of spending quality time with one’s children. We fight hard for the type of plan that serves the best interests of our clients and their children.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent committing to homeschooling your child, a parent of a child with special needs, or a parent trying to cope with the fallout of domestic abuse or violence, we can help. Contact the experienced attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC to schedule your initial consultation today.
Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC assists clients throughout Prince William County and Fairfax with their child custody and family law needs.