Fauquier County Child Custody Attorneys
If couples with children decide to divorce, a determination regarding custody and child support has to be made.
Custody refers to taking responsibility for the care and control of a child. In Virginia, both parents are presumed to be equal. In other words, the law gives no preference to either parent if they meet certain conditions.
A child custody battle is never easy and often involves custody disputes. Nothing is more important than ensuring a custody and visitation arrangement that is in the child’s best interests.
Fauquier County VA child custody lawyers at Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC, are well-acquainted with Virginia’s child custody laws. We realize the child custody process can be emotional and complicated for parents. Let us help you fight for the well-being of your child.
Types of Child Custody
Virginia courts recognize two types of child custody:
- Physical custody
- Legal custody
While physical custody refers to which parent will live with the child primarily, legal custody refers to the parent’s right to decide about the child’s education, welfare, medical care, and religion.
The court can award joint custody, sole, or a combination of both. For example, the court can award physical custody to one parent and visitation rights to the other parent. Visitation rights are awarded to the parent who doesn’t have primary physical custody of the child. However, if that is not in the best interest of the child, an exception can be made.
Parents in Virginia are strongly encouraged to create a parenting plan in a custody case. The parenting plan should include how the parents will address the child’s needs. When parents agree, they can ask the judge to approve it.
Parents can make parenting plans or go through custody by themselves. But, hiring family attorneys can be a better option.
Ultimately, the judge makes the final decision regarding child custody. But, experienced attorneys such as those at Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC, can be very helpful. Based on their past experiences, they could suggest various custody scenarios that might work for the whole family. Remember that custody disputes can become complex litigation cases, particularly if they involve domestic abuse or relocation.
What If a Child Custody Case Involves Relocation?
A persistent issue in child custody cases is parents’ expressed need to relocate out of state or jurisdiction. At Ashwell & Ashwell, we help clients understand the potential impact of a relocation on custodial arrangements. Virginia will always default to and rely on the best interests of the child in determining if a change of custody or visitation is necessary. However, relocation cases often add a slightly more complicated layer to the analysis.
If relocation is in question in your case, our family law attorneys will advise you on whether a judge is likely to allow your child to relocate and what impact such an arrangement will likely have on the noncustodial parent. We will also examine the impact for a parent who must relocate although the court will not permit the child to do so. Let us examine the hard questions with you and help you reimagine possibilities for your family life after you or the other parent relocates if this becomes necessary.
Our lawyers encourage parents to consider options such as having a child spend every summer vacation with the noncustodial parent. Then we will help you negotiate or litigate while pursuing solutions that are right for your family.
Relocation Request Considerations
In considering a party’s relocation request, the court generally focuses on the following factors:
- The impact relocation will have on the relationship between the noncustodial parent and the child. What steps can be taken to maintain their parent-child relationship?
- The degree to which the relocation will affect the noncustodial parent’s visitation with the child: Will the schedule in place no longer work or make a functional schedule impossible?
- The general reasons why the custodial parent wants to relocate: What arguments may go before the court as contact with extended family, economic stability, and the parent’s employment opportunities are on the line?
Relocation Impact Analysis
Often, the focus of a decision comes down to whether the benefit to the child is so great that the potential risk to the noncustodial parent is outweighed. In other words, are there educational, cultural, medical, or other benefits to the child of a relocation with one parent? Would the noncustodial parent’s relationship be negatively impacted, or will a change in the normal custodial schedule offer a solution? The resolution of a child relocation petition is often very fact-specific. Details such as the following must be considered:
- The distance of the relocation
- The previous level of involvement of the noncustodial parent
- Local opportunities that may benefit the child
Each parent generally has a different opinion on how these factors impacts the child. In some cases, the child is old enough to weigh in on whether or not they wish to move. To gain an understanding of a child’s perspective, a judge will often communicate with the child through a video conference without the interference of parents or attorneys in an open court context.
What Are the Legal Costs Associated with Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer in Fauquier County?
The legal costs of hiring a child custody lawyer in Fauquier County can vary significantly based on several factors. Generally, these costs include the attorney’s hourly rate, retainer fees, and other expenses related to the case.
Family law attorneys in Northern Virginia, including Fauquier County, may charge differently based on their legal experience, the complexity of the case, and the length of time required to resolve the custody issues.
Additionally, costs can increase if the case involves complex legal issues like domestic violence, joint physical custody disputes, or equitable distribution in the event of a marriage dissolution.
Law firms in Fauquier County typically provide an initial consultation to discuss the specifics of the case, during which they should provide an estimate of the costs involved.
It’s essential for clients to make an informed decision about which attorney to hire, considering not just the cost but also the attorney’s expertise in family law and child custody matters.
Costs may also be influenced by whether the case can be resolved through mediation or requires extensive civil litigation.
How Do Fauquier County Courts Address Issues of Parental Alienation in Custody Cases?
Fauquier County courts take issues of parental alienation very seriously, as they can significantly affect the mental and physical health and general welfare of the child involved.
When deciding on child custody, the court considers the best interests of the child, which includes evaluating the parent’s ability to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
Allegations of parental alienation are thoroughly investigated, and the court may order psychological evaluations or counseling to assess the impact on the child.
If parental alienation is proven, it can greatly influence the court’s decision on custody arrangements. The court aims to ensure the child’s well-being and may adjust custody or visitation rights to protect the child’s mental and physical health.
In severe cases, the court may grant sole custody to one parent if it’s deemed necessary for the child’s welfare. Family law attorneys in Fauquier County are well-versed in handling such sensitive cases and can guide parents through the legal process, ensuring that their rights and the best interests of the child are upheld.
Rest Assured, We Can Help
We realize the uncertainties and conflicts that often go along with relocation cases are typically stressful and worrisome for parents. While we cannot make a feeling of conflict go away in such cases, we can share with our clients how many other families in similar situations have found workable solutions.
Learn how we can advocate for you and your child or children in a custody case, with or without relocation as a factor. Schedule a consultation or complete our online inquiry form to get the conversation started.