Norfolk Child Custody Attorneys Help Divorcing Parents Protect Their Children

Virginia family lawyers work to ensure parent-child relationships survive divorce

Norfolk, the second most populous city in Virginia, is conveniently placed for the 1.7 million people who live in the Hampton Roads area, many of whom are military families. At Harding, Harding & Harding Attorneys at Law, we provide a full range of family law services to area residents from our Norfolk office. We understand the stress of ending a marriage when children are involved, and we are committed to helping clients ensure their children’s welfare while protecting clients’ parental bonds in child custody determinations.

How Virginia courts decide child custody cases

Virginia recognizes several types of child custody:

  • Joint or sole legal custody — In most cases, family law courts prefer parents to share the legal authority to make important decisions about their children’s welfare, but one parent can be granted sole decision-making authority.
  • Joint or sole physical custody — Physical custody determines where children live, either primarily with one parent (the custodial parent) or in a shared arrangement with both parents. Most noncustodial parents have the right to see their children through visitation schedules.
  • Third-party custody — This type of custody grants someone other than a parent primary custody of the child.

The court bases child custody and visitation decisions on what it deems to be in the best interests of the child. Factors the court considers in making those decisions include:

  • The ages and mental and physical conditions of the child and parents
  • The relationship between parents and children
  • The needs of each child
  • Each parent’s previous and future role in caring for the child
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, to actively support the child’s relationship with the other parent, and to cooperate in resolving disputes regarding the child
  • The reasonable preference of a mature child
  • Any history of real or threatened child abuse

Courts may limit or deny the custodial or visitation rights of a neglectful or abusive parent. If a custodial parent wishes to relocate, the court will usually require that parent to give the court and the other parent 30 days’ advance written notice of their intention. However, everything else being equal, the court will not favor a mother over a father or vice versa in determining custody.

When grandparents and other relatives have custody or visitation rights

Under certain situations, the court will conclude that the best interests of the child do not favor custody by either parent. If the court has clear and convincing evidence that neither parent can serve the best interests of the child, it may award custody or visitation to any other person with a legitimate interest, such as grandparents, step-grandparents, stepparents, former stepparents, blood relatives and other family members. We assist such people who seek custody to ensure children’s welfare.

Child custody in military families

Foreign deployments for divorced and legally separated soldiers and sailors who are custodial parents can create complications in custody cases. When deployments mean children cannot accompany custodial parents, the other parent may need to take over sole custody on a temporary basis. When the service member returns home, however, the other parent may resist returning to the status quo. We have the specialized knowledge and experience to handle military families’ child custody disputes.

Modifying custody and visitation

Child custody and visitation orders are not set in stone. There may be a number of reasons why you need to modify them, such as:

  • Your ex-spouse is abusive or neglectful of the child.
  • One of you moves away.
  • There is a change in the ability of you or your ex-spouse to care for or make decisions for the child.

If your child custody or visitation order needs to be modified, we will present compelling evidence why the court should modify the order. We also represent parents who oppose modifications.

Knowledgeable Norfolk child custody attorneys protect your parental rights

At Harding, Harding & Harding Attorneys at Law, we know how to defend your parental rights and ensure your children’s welfare in child custody matters. To schedule a free initial consultation today in our Norfolk, Virginia office, contact us online.

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"In every case Mr. Harding takes, he strives to provide his clients with the highest level of legal service. If you choose Darrell M. Harding Attorney At Law, PLC to represent you, you can expect to receive experienced legal guidance and be treated with the utmost courtesy and respect at all times."

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Our Offices

  • Virginia Beach Office


    5366 Virginia Beach Boulevard, AAA Building.
    Suite 301
    Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462

  • Chesapeake Office


    2010 Old Greenbrier Road
    Suite L
    Chesapeake, Virginia 23320



  • Norfolk Office


    1500 E Little Creek Road
    Suite 309
    Norfolk, Virginia 23518



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Ratings & Reviews

  • 5.0/5.0

    I would like to thank you guys again for the amazing work, time and effort that was displayed in my behalf in my time of need. Excellent communication skills, and knowing exactly what I needed!! I will definitely recommend this team to anyo...
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    — Glenda Williams

  • 5.0/5.0

    Thomas Harding is a wonderful, down to earth lawyer. He helped smooth over my divorce. He was a pleasure to work with, and great with kids as well. Very family oriented. Very informative, and very helpful in answering any of my questions I ...
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    — Hope Dorsey

  • 5.0/5.0

    I have dealt with Thomas Harding and he has been my lawyer through my custody battle and with his knowledge and experience he has been able to provide me safety and also much more time with my daughter we are still going through our custody...
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    — Andrew Klouzal

  • 5.0/5.0

    Mr. Thomas Harding was very professional in his work! I was able to win all of my cases with him. He was very professional in the court room as well and knew what the judges choice would’ve been before the case even happened. I used this ma...
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    — Mykahla Flowers

  • 5.0/5.0

    Thomas is fantastic! Gets back to me quickly when I have questions, reasonably priced and gets the job done.

    — Kanyin Heffernan