Same Sex Parental Rights, Step Parent Rights and More Answers to Virginia Divorce FAQs

Q: What happens during custody disputes among same sex couples?

The law concerning same sex marriages in Virginia and beyond is in a state of great fluidity (as of 2014), but the principles of custody we just discussed still generally apply. The court still wants to protect the health and well being of children affected by divorce, and it strives to act in a neutral capacity.

Q: What if both you and your same sex partner are considered legal parents?

In general, the court may treat the custody situation in the same way that it would treat a situation involving heterosexual parents.

Q: What if only one of you is considered the legal parent?

In general, the non-legal parent in this kind of scenario has very little recourse to obtain legal or physical custody or visitation rights. However, the non-legal parent may not be totally powerless. Custody and visitation cases are very fact-driven, and every situation is different.

Q: Do step-parents have any legal rights to visit children or obtain custody?

The Virginia statute that creates rights for “persons of legitimate interest” can be used, under certain circumstances, by step-parents to pursue custody and visitation. Similar caveats apply: Parental rights normally supersede the rights of step-parents.

Q: Under what circumstances can the terms of custody and visitation be renegotiated?

The court aims to serve two goals. On the one hand, it seeks to create a stable arrangement that minimizes disruptions for children. On the other hand, the court wants the custody and visitation arrangements to be flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances. Custody and visitation orders are never truly final, even after your case is over. If there has been a significant change in circumstances, and you can prove a change is in the child’s best interests, a court will modify your arrangement. How this is actually done is a complicated process. Schedule a consultation with an attorney at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC to discuss your situation and determine if it is appropriate to file for a modification.

Here are four examples of situations in which a renegotiation might be likely:

1. A parent gets sick or recovers from a chronic illness. In other words, the parent’s physical capabilities to provide childcare and guidance change substantially from what they had been when the original agreement was negotiated.

2. A parent experiences dramatic changes in financial status. For instance: the primary care giver loses his job and files for bankruptcy; he no longer has money to pay for food and shelter for his daughters. Conversely: a parent who lacked an income stream during the custody negotiations launches a successful business and can now afford much more childcare.

3. A parent moves out of state. A move can alter the logistics of the custody arrangement, creating challenges regarding both visitation and schooling for the children. If a parent desires to move with a child, a petition for relocation must be filed, absent an agreement. Relocation cases are typically more complex than the average custody and visitation case.

4. A parent remarries. A change in relationship status or living situation of a child could prompt a need to reassess the custody and visitation arrangements.

If you need assistance now with your Fairfax Virginia divorce, call our team at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC right now for a consultation at (888) 530-4374.

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