Relating to Child Custody and Visitation

Questions Relating to Child Custody and Visitation

Northern Virginia Child Custody Lawyer: Providing the Answers You Need

Child custody, visitation, child support, and all related family law topics often cause much confusion for parents going through divorce. If you are fighting to obtain custody of your children or you are working through a visitation schedule with your ex-spouse, you may have questions. A Northern Virginia divorce attorney from our law offices is available to provide you with the answers you need. Continue reading to learn more about topics relating to child custody and visitation.

Does the mother always win sole physical and legal custody?

No, there is no presumption in favor of granting custody to the mother.

How does a court decide which parent will get custody of a child?

The court decides all matters of custody and visitation by considering the child's "best interest." In this case, the child's best interest refers to a set of statutory factors that a court must consider, including:

  • The child's age;
  • The child's gender;
  • The child's physical and mental health;
  • The parents' physical and mental health;
  • The parents' lifestyles;
  • Any history of abuse;
  • The emotional bonds between the parent and the child;
  • The parent's ability to provide the basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care;
  • The willingness of the parent to encourage a healthy, on-going relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • If the child is above a certain age, the child's preference; and
  • Who has been the child's historic, primary caretaker.

The court will hear evidence supplied by the parties and may refer the case for a custody evaluation. At times, a psychologist, family therapist, counselor or child development specialist may be employed to assist the parties in determining the child's needs.

What about spousal or child abuse protective orders?

Protective orders, also referred to as restraining orders, can dramatically impact both a divorce and child custody action. An abused spouse may seek a civil and/or criminal protective order, which, among other things, may provide temporary child custody and support, and sole use of the marital residence.

What are the rights of grandparents to visit grandchildren? How may a grandparent gain custody of her grandchildren?

The court may grant reasonable visitation or custody to grandparents if both birth parents agree. Grandparents seeking visitation must give notice to both parents. However, absent an agreement, grandparent visitation will not be ordered unless the failure to grant such custody or visitation of the birth parents.However, absent an agreement grandparent visitation will not be ordered unless the failure to grant such custody or visitation would be harmful to the child. This is an extremely high burden.

What is the definition of legal custody?

Legal custody is the right to make "legal decisions" on behalf of a child. Typically, these decisions are made in important areas such as medical care, education and religious training. Legal custody may be joint or sole. If parents have been awarded joint legal custody, major decisions must be shared unless otherwise ordered by the Court.

To learn more about your rights and to have all of your questions addressed, contact a Northern Virginia child custody attorney from ShounBach.