Custody Lawyers serving Chesapeake, Suffolk & more for Child Visitation & Custody Matters.
Frequently Asked Questions About Custody
What about the custody of our children?
Custody issues can be very emotional, living by the “Golden Rule” of treating someone the way you would want to be treated, oftentimes, is forgotten, at least temporarily. The bottom line is that in most circumstances if the children had their way, mom and dad would not be splitting up. In most circumstances, they love the both of you. Therefore, the Virginia Code punishes parents who try to ”alienate” another parent without good reason. Sometimes, there are very good reasons to eliminate contact with the other parent, but that is where a parent must consult with an attorney first before acting, unless there is an imminent danger for the child.
My wife and l are raising three children, and I take the custody aspect of my practice to be the most Important. I will answer every question about every issue thoroughly, as the questions are fact sensitive. If you meet with me, I provide you with lots of information to enable you to think in a proper fashion, not only putting the best interest of your children first, but also guiding you to successful results of your custody and visitation case if contested. You will definitely hear my unvarnished expert opinion in regard to what I believe is in the best interest of your children after you have given me all of your facts. You will definitely benefit from the hard truth. But, most importantly, your children will benefit by arriving at a stable/tailor made parenting plan focusing on their best interest.
Please call me. It is truly a privilege to help resolve issues regarding your children.
As a final note, the court retains power to alter custody arrangements until the child turns 18 or is emancipated. It certainly makes sense to work hard to accomplish a mutually beneficial parenting plan that can stand the test of time.
What If I want to move away from the area with our children?
The legal standard remains whether it is in the best interest of the child. Such a move can often severely curtail the relationship with a parent. Therefore, the court looks at the reasons for the move, how detailed the plans are for the move, how the new location will affect the child’s development, and other factors. Since Tidewater has a high concentration of military and transient families, this issue often comes up, and I can provide specific information for your circumstances – whether you want to move or whether you want to stop a move -through an Injunction. In any event, you should do nothing until you get sound legal advice.
What happens if I have an interstate child custody case?
The first question is, “What court will have jurisdiction?” Usually the parent living in the state with jurisdiction will have the advantage. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) defines the home state as where the child lived for six months just before the case was filed. It also defines “continuing exclusive jurisdiction” as the state has exclusive authority to decide child custody and visitation issues. Under the continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction Rule, if one parent moves away from the state where the case was first decided, the jurisdiction stays in that state as long as the other parent continues to live there, or until that state decides to decline jurisdiction. After time passes, it may make sense to hear the case in another state. A motion can be made to relinquish jurisdiction, but this again is fact sensitive to your individual situation.
In regard to Interstate Custody Laws at the Federal level, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) has certain rules that all states must follow. It requires this state to enforce certain child custody decisions of other states, and if another state fails to follow the PKPA, enforcement can be mandated in federal court.
Last, but certainly not least, if you have a situation where a parent is planning on taking a child overseas, if you do not have a Court Order, you are at risk of losing custody. An Injunction should be filed to stop the move of the child until a Court Order can be entered.
Custody and Visitation Trends
Effective July 1, 2018, Courts everywhere, including those here in Hampton Roads (Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Isle of Wight, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, etc.) are now required to consider both sole and joint custody in divorce cases. People who co-parent – and to advocates who campaign for this change – it means both parents will be treated equally.
In a nutshell, parents’ availability, schedules, and behavior are very important, thus joint custody and shared parenting time should be the first consideration, so long as there are no major negatives for either parent.
The technical, legal definition of “true” shared parenting time after a divorce or separation, is a “rebuttable presumption” of shared parenting, which starts both parents at 50/50 parenting time and then adjusts from there based on the specific considerations of each case. While the “rebuttable presumption” term should be acceptable to Virginia’s legal community, especially since it already exists in state child support statutes, we still have not gotten there yet in regard to child custody/visitation law.
However, we know (as validated by more than 60 studies) that children benefit most, in the vast majority of circumstances, from having both parents in their lives as much as possible after divorce or separation. Virginia, hopefully will in the future, emulate other states’ innovative approaches that have been successful and are viewed positively by legal and psychological experts.
In short, maximizing both parents’ time with their children should be the goal. This is based on a couple of key words, “availability” and “stability”. As long as a parent is available and stable, in the vast majority of situations, children benefit from maximized time with both parents to maintain those important familial bonds.