Child custody and visitation are some of the most sensitive elements of any divorce or separation. Typically, when parents disagree on how or where to raise a child, a local court judge will determine a custody and/or visitation agreement. The court may also be necessary to resolve disputes between parents and grandparents, unmarried parents, or custodial and non-custodial parents. No matter the situation, the court will always rule in favor of what it determines to be the best interests of the child.
If you are dealing with a child custody or visitation issue, it is important that you have an attorney on your side. DiPietro Law Group, PLLC can help you make sure that your parental rights are protected and that your child’s best interests are prioritized. Our Fairfax child custody and visitation attorneys have extensive experience handling these types of family law matters. We are prepared to advocate for you and your child.
Contact our firm by calling our Fairfax office or by filling out an online contact form. We’ll get back to you promptly to schedule your initial consultation.
How Do Courts Determine Child Custody?
The first thing to know about child custody is that there are several types as outlined by Virginia law. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child, while physical custody refers to where the child will live. Additionally, a parent may be awarded sole custody, granting him or her primary legal and physical custody of the child. In such situations, the other parent may be granted visitation, but will not have any custody rights. More commonly, courts will award joint custody.
There are several factors taken into account when awarding custody, including but not limited to:
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- The employment status and/or income of each parent
- The mental and emotional wellbeing of each parent
- The preferences of the child (if applicable)
- The child’s relationship to each parent
- The child’s relationship and involvement in school and the community
- The stability of the home environment of each parent
This list is not exhaustive. Because every situation is unique, the court will often weigh various other factors in determining child custody. The judge will likely look at whether or not either parent has been accused or convicted of a crime, especially domestic violence or sexual abuse. The court may also take into account other factors if the child in question has any sort of physical or mental disability or learning impairment.
When it comes to retaining or obtaining child custody, our Fairfax child custody attorneys can help you understand your legal options. We take the time to understand your particular situation, as well as your goals for the legal process. Whether you wish to secure sole custody or you want to establish a joint custody arrangement, we can help.
Understanding Visitation Laws in Virginia
In contrast to child custody, visitation does not grant decision-making rights to a parent. It also does not determine where a child will live. It does, however, allow a parent who does not have primary physical custody (known as the non-custodial parent) to spend time with his or her child.
There are several visitation arrangement options, including:
- Residential Visitation Schedule: This determines where the child will live on weekdays, and where he or she will live on weekends.
- Holiday Visitation Schedule: This arrangement determines where a child will spend holidays and/or special occasions.
- Summer Break Visitation Schedule: This shows where a child will spend school breaks, including summer vacations.
It is also possible to create an arrangement that allows parents to take their child on vacation. In most cases, it is best if parents are able to come to an agreement outside of the courts. Mediation allows two parents to create a visitation arrangement that suits their particular situation, rather than leave this decision up to an impartial judge. However, our Fairfax visitation attorneys understand that this is not always possible. Regardless of your circumstances, we are here to help you protect your rights and defend your child’s best interests.
Contact Our Office for a Consultation
Whether you need assistance with a child custody issue or a contentious visitation matter, our team is prepared to help you navigate the legal process. We have represented numerous parents throughout Northern Virginia with all types of custody and visitation issues. In every instance, our goal is to help you secure the best possible outcome for your child. We are even able to help you appeal child custody and visitation decisions whenever necessary.
To schedule your consultation with our Fairfax child custody and visitation lawyers, call us today.