Custody Concerns for a New School Year

Each school year poses new challenges: coordinating bus schedules, after-school programs, and sports practices. Factor in two people with busy schedules who are sharing custody of their child, and it is enough to give you a headache.

Child custody is defined as “the care, control, and maintenance of a child.” The court has to decide custody arrangements based on the needs of your child. Even if both parties have come to a mutual agreement on sharing custody, the court may still determine other arrangements will better serve your child.

As the upcoming school year approaches, if you find yourself struggling to keep up with your child’s activities, don’t despair. If your current custody schedule is problematic, consult an experienced Fairfax child custody attorney to fully understand your parental rights.

What Factors Does the Court Use to Determine Child Custody?

In determining the best interests of the child, the court will make a determination based on the following factors, as set out in Virginia Code § 20-124.3:

  1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child;
  2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
  3. The relationship existing between each parent and each child;
  4. The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child;
  5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future in the upbringing and care of the child;
  6. The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent;
  7. The relative willingness and demonstrated the ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child;
  8. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference;
  9. Any history of abuse that occurred no earlier than 10 years prior to the date a petition is filed;
  10. Such other factors the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

In What Circumstances Will a Court Modify a Custody Order?

In Virginia, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court handles all child custody matters. The court will not consider a change in the custody order until at least six months have passed since the original custody order was issued.

While new custody matters are generally filed in the county/state where the child has resided for the past six months, in Fairfax County, you must call Domestic Relations if you are seeking to modify a court order. You are also required to bring the original order to your appointment.

If both parties cannot agree on a modified schedule, the court will refer both parties to mediation to resolve their differences before scheduling a hearing. The court will only schedule the hearing if a judge decides that there has been a “material change in circumstances.”

A material change in circumstances refers to a significant shift that affects the child’s health and well-being. For example, if a child’s soccer schedule and the location of practices have been changed, a court may deem that new arrangements need to be put in place.

There is no limit to how many times the court can modify an order. However, you should only request that the court modify custody arrangements if you feel that it will be in the best interest of your child.

Dedicated Fairfax Family Law Attorneys Near You

With so much conflicting advice, you need guidance on what modifications should be made to your custody order. The court system can be fickle, and you need the best child custody lawyer in Fairfax and nearby to handle the red tape. Discover why U.S. News and World Report have given us the distinction of “best lawyers, best law firms” for eight years running. Contact Curran Moher Weis today to schedule your consultation.

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