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.