Fairfax Child Custody Attorney
Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Serving Fairfax County, Virginia
Child custody issues can arise when children are caught in a divorce and born to unmarried parents. The related problems are among the most contested aspects of divorces, separations, and other family law disputes.
Regardless of the specific circumstances, a child custody lawyer serving Fairfax County can help you protect your rights and ensure your children's best interests are considered. There are many reasons why you need a Fairfax child custody lawyer. For example, you and your spouse have not agreed on who will have primary custody of your children. Or you may be concerned that your ex-partner may try to relocate with your children without your consent.
One of the very experienced family law attorneys at Keithley Law, PLLC, can help you resolve your child custody and visitation issues. With more than 50 years of combined Virginia family law experience, you can rely on our Fairfax child custody lawyers to protect your legal rights and work to resolve your dispute as painlessly as possible.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Virginia?
Below are some important things to keep in mind if you are fighting for child custody in Virginia:
- You have an equal right to visitation with your child in the absence of a court order. Each parent has a legal right to spend time with a minor child. In other words, you can't "kidnap" your own child if there is no written court order for visitation and custody.
- There is no maternal or paternal preference in Virginia for child custody.
- Virginia distinguishes between legal and physical custody. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions regarding your child’s upbringing. Physical custody is the right to spend parenting time with your child. You can have sole or joint legal custody and sole or joint physical custody.
- Your duty to support your child is separate and distinct from your right to spend time with your child. Thus, if you fail to financially support your child, the child’s other parent cannot withhold visitation solely on this basis. However, the child’s other parent can sue you for nonpayment of child support and require you to show cause as to why a court should not find you in contempt of a prior court order.
- Active service members have special rights under Virginia law, including rights under legislation passed in 2011.
- Anyone with a “legitimate interest” in your child’s well-being can file for visitation or custody of your child.
Here at Keithley Law, PLLC, we understand how complicated the Virginia custody process can be. With any questions, be sure to contact our experienced Fairfax child custody lawyer today.
What Does 50/50 Custody Look Like in Virginia?
A 50/50 custody arrangement can give a child equal access to both parents in Virginia, which is often beneficial for the children. No parent will have more time than the other, and the child can retain an equal relationship with both mom and dad.
Working to Avoid Complex Child Custody Battles
While these difficult issues can bring about feelings of resentment, it is in your child's best interests to work towards an amicable agreement as quickly as possible. The ideal custody agreement is one that gives your children the best possible chance of success. However, when certain problems arise such as the other parent intentionally creating conflict or being unwilling to come to an agreement, litigation may be necessary.
If the court is left with the decision, they may consider factors to establish a custody and visitation agreement such as:
- The ability of each parent to provide a safe home
- The child's relationship with each parent and other family members
- Each parent's financial ability to provide support
- The child's needs
What Makes a Parent Unfit for Child Custody in Virginia?
When determining child custody arrangements in Virginia, parents' fitness to raise their children is an important factor. Generally, courts award custody to the parent they determine to be most fit and who has their children's best interests at heart. There are, however, some circumstances which make a parent unsuitable for child custody in Virginia, such as:
- Abusive Behavior: If either parent has acted in a way that has been deemed abusive or neglectful towards their child(ren) this could result in the court assigning sole custody to the other parent. In addition, either parent may be denied custody or visitation if they have abused or neglected another member of their family.
- Substance Abuse: Substance abuse can lead to instability and dangerous behavior, making it a prime reason for determining a parent unfit for child custody in Virginia. There is a possibility that one party may be disqualified from having joint or primary custody if there is evidence that suggests habitual drug or alcohol abuse by that party.
- Lack of Financial Stability: Financial stability is crucial to raising healthy and happy children. Failure to provide financially for them can demonstrate unfitness on the part of the non-custodial parent, resulting in reduced chances of obtaining joint custody or even visitation rights.
How Will the Judge Decide My Custody Case in Virginia?
When parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, get divorced or separated, the family court will need to make a decision about custody. There are many factors that the judge will consider when making this decision, and it is important to understand how they will be weighed.
- One of the most important factors is what is in the best interest of the children. The judge will look at many factors to determine this, including the child's age, health, and relationship with each parent. The judge will also consider which parent can provide a more stable home environment and whether there is any history of abuse or neglect.
- Another important consideration is the wishes of the children. If the child is old enough to express a preference, the judge will take this into account. However, the child's wishes are not necessarily determinative; the judge will still need to consider what is in the best interest of the children overall.
If you are involved in a custody case in Fairfax County, Virginia, it is important to have an highly rated custody lawyer on your side. The family law attorney can help you collect evidence and present your case in a way that gives you the best chance of success. Contact a Fairfax family law lawyer today to learn more.
Our Fairfax Child Custody Lawyer Can Help
At Keithley Law, PLLC, our child custody lawyer knows that doing what's best for your children can be difficult, especially in the midst of a divorce or other family law dispute. Our Fairfax child custody and visitation lawyers can provide you with answers to your questions and help craft creative solutions. Our experienced Virginia custody attorneys will work with you to find the best solutions for your family and to protect your rights as a parent.