Legal Rights of Unmarried Parents
Custody and Visitation
In Virginia, custody and visitation is determined by the “best interests of the child” standard. The best interests of the child standard allows a judge to hear evidence from both parents to determine which custody arrangement is best of for the child(ren).
There is no presumption that one parent is more fit than another. Instead, the court will examine a myriad of statutory factors when determining how each parent will serve the best interests of the child. Some factors considered are the age of the child, needs of the child, relationship of each parent with the child, history of family abuse, and any other factor that the court “deems necessary and proper”. To properly assess your custody and visitation rights, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.
Parents in Virginia can always settle their custody and visitation disputes outside of court. Once a custody and visitation settlement occurs, an agreement reflecting the settlement terms is often drafted. Agreements are best drafted by an experienced family law lawyer who has handled custody and visitation disputes before.
In all states, regardless of marriage status, every legal parent is required to support their child(ren). Virginia family law recognizes that children in Virginia have a right to support from both parents. In Virginia, child support is based upon the parents’ incomes, child’s needs, and the ability of the parent to provide support.
Like most states, Virginia has child support guidelines, which dictate the minimum amount of support owed by a parent. However, a court has the discretion to deviate from such guidelines based on the existence of other factors, such as extraordinary medical expenses and imputation of income. In addition, support guidelines differ based upon the parents’ arrangement for custody.
An experienced Virginia family law attorney will be able to advise you of your legal child support obligations based on your individual circumstances.
Make sure that you take the time to fully understand your legal rights when it comes to issues pertaining to your child(ren). An experienced Northern Virginia custody and visitation lawyer will be able to properly explain and enforce your rights.