Custody cases can be extremely hard on children. During your divorce and afterwards, it’s important to remember your children need both parents and to work towards a reasonable parenting plan that upholds your parental rights while affirming your children’s best interests. The child custody attorneys at Joseph & Mische, P.C. have more than 70 years of combined experience representing mothers and fathers seeking custody or modifying custody. We make it our top priority to minimize the impact of litigation on your children, and we strive to reach results that work smoothly for all parties involved. In rare cases where contact with one of the parents would be harmful to the child, we litigate aggressively to secure your child’s safety. On the other hand, if the other parent has made false allegations of unfitness against you, we fight determinedly to protect your reputation, your parental rights, and your relationship with your child.
The best interests of a child require the participation and cooperation of both parents. Agreement on child custody terms may be reached through negotiation, or the court may order the terms. Types of custody include:
In Virginia, the family law court awards legal and physical custody based on the best interests of the child. However, parents can take the decision out of the judge’s hands by negotiating a child custody settlement as part of an uncontested divorce.
When the court awards sole physical custody to one parent, the other parent is awarded visitation rights, unless the court feels contact with that parent would be contrary to the child’s best interests. The extent of a parent’s visitation rights depends on how the court judges that parent’s fitness. If a parent simply cannot perform the duties of a primary caregiver, but is nonetheless a loving parent, the court can be generous with visitation, since frequent, meaningful contact with the parent would be in the child’s best interest. However, if facts come to light that call into question a parent’s fitness, the court can:
In extreme cases, a court can even terminate a parent’s rights entirely. A parent who is accused of unfitness has the right to due process. Judges understand that one party to a divorce often makes unfounded accusations of abuse to get an upper hand in a custody battle. Nevertheless, the court may order temporary restrictions as it conducts an investigation into the allegations.
Virginia family courts determine custody based on the best interests of the child, taking into consideration Virginia Code §20-124.3, including the following factors:
The focus of a child custody case must be kept on the child. We understand Virginia child custody laws and can guide you through the legal process so you can achieve your custody goals.
When you need help with child custody matters, call the Charlottesville office of Joseph & Mische, P.C. at 434.260.8749 or the Leesburg office at 703.777.7740, or contact the firm online to schedule a confidential appointment.