People who have a child together do not always live together. Also, many couples with children choose to end their relationship or marriage. As a result, many parents turn to the courts to determine an appropriate child custody arrangement. While some parents are able to amicably come to an agreement regarding the custody of their child, many child custody disputes become contentious and can lead to protracted litigation. If you and your child’s co-parent do not live together or are no longer romantically involved, you should consult an attorney regarding your case. The dedicated Fairfax child custody lawyers at Robinson Law can set forth strategic arguments in your favor to help you strive for a custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interests and allows you to exercise your parental rights. Our attorneys represent people in communities throughout Northern Virginia.Pursuing Child Custody in Virginia
Under Virginia law, both parents have the right to custody of a child absent a court order dictating otherwise, regardless of whether the parents are married. Custody is comprised of physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody denotes the right to make decisions regarding the child’s care and upbringing, as well as responsibility for the control and care of the child. Parents may share legal custody, even if the child primarily resides with one parent. Physical custody refers to the custodial and physical care of a child.
While the law allows for joint physical custody and joint legal custody, it is not presumed that a joint custody arrangement is the most appropriate, and judges can grant one parent sole custody. Our child custody attorneys can help Fairfax parents pursue the form of custody that is appropriate in their case. Even if a parent has sole custody of a child, however, the non-custodial parent will typically be granted visitation, and the law requires courts to ensure that a child has frequent contact with both parents in most cases.
A court may order the parties to attend mediation to attempt to resolve custody issues without litigation. Mediation is a process during which the parties meet with a neutral third party to attempt to come to an agreement. The goals of mediation include developing a schedule for the physical custody of the child, assigning rights regarding legal custody, and determining a method for how any disputes going forward should be handled. If mediation is not appropriate or is not successful, the court will determine an appropriate custody arrangement.Factors Considered in Determining a Child Custody Arrangement
In any custody case, the court’s sole concern is what is in the best interests of the child involved. Thus, the court will assess several factors to determine an arrangement that suits the child’s physical, emotional, and mental needs. Our Fairfax child custody attorneys can explain how each factor may affect your case. Factors that the court will consider include the mental and physical health of the child and of each parent, the ages of the child and of the parents, and the child’s developmental needs. The court will also consider whether each parent possesses the resources to meet the child’s intellectual, emotional, and physical needs, as well as the relationships between the child and each parent, and between the child and any siblings or members of the child’s extended family.
Additionally, the court will examine each parent’s ability to maintain a relationship with the child and the role that each parent has historically taken in raising the child. Another important factor that the court will consider is each parent’s willingness and ability to support continued contact between the child and the other parent. For example, if one parent has previously denied the other parent visitation with the child, this may affect the custody determination. In cases in which the child is old enough to have an informed preference, the court may consider that as well. Finally, the court will assess whether either parent has a history of abuse and consider any other factor that it deems relevant and necessary to make a proper determination.Contact a Capable Child Custody Lawyer in Fairfax
If you need to set up a custody arrangement, you should confer with an attorney to discuss your parental rights. At Robinson Law, we understand the importance of obtaining a favorable outcome in a child custody case, and we will fight tirelessly to help you strive for your desired result. We assist people in custody cases throughout Northern Virginia. We can be reached through our online form or at (888) 259-9787.