Child Custody

Fairfax Child Custody Lawyer

One of the most challenging aspects of a divorce case is how your children will be affected. While it is impossible to completely protect a child from the divorce process, the best interests of every young person are paramount in all Virginia child custody cases. It is necessary to have a solid resolution about who is legally authorized to make decisions concerning your child’s well-being. And, of course, how much time a child will spend with each parent is a question that must be carefully weighed and determined. In Virginia, all child custody and visitation decisions are governed by the “best interests of the child” statute in which the court considers factors such as the age and condition of the child and each parent, the relationship between each parent and each child, the needs of the child, the role of each parent in upbringing and caring for the child, reasonable preference of the child, and more. An experienced Virginia child custody lawyer can support your efforts to create a child custody arrangement that serves your interests and those of your children.    

Caring and Knowledgeable Child Custody Lawyers You Can Trust

Our Fairfax child custody lawyer understands you want to protect your children and always do what is best for them. We offer our clients the care and compassion they need while fighting diligently for the most favorable outcome for them and their children. Curran Moher Weis has extensive experience handling child custody cases and has the skills and resources needed to efficiently represent you and your family´s interests in court.    

Most Common Child Custody Agreements in Virginia

In a Virginia divorce, there are generally two areas of custody to be addressed. Legal custody is the right to make life decisions on behalf of a child. Typically, these decisions are made in important areas such as medical care, education, and religious training. Legal custody may be joint or sole. If parents have been awarded joint legal custody, such decisions must be shared unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Physical custody is the right to the child’s presence. It refers to where a child lives and who has the responsibility for supervising the child at a specific time. Time spent with the non-custodial parent is often referred to as “visitation.” There are subsections that fall beneath legal custody and physical custody:
  • Joint legal custody

    Common in Virginia divorce cases. also called "shared custody," "shared parenting," or "dual residence."In this situation, both parents are given equal authority regarding important decisions that affect their child’s life.
  • Sole legal custody

    The less common arrangement grants one parent complete say over decisions related to the child. Contrary to popular belief, there is no presumption in favor of granting custody to the mother.
When it comes to physical custody, either the parents together or the court itself will decide on a schedule of when the child or children will reside with each parent throughout the year.

Child Custody – Visitation

When a parent does not have primary custody of their child, they are usually legally entitled to visitation with their child. There are exceptions, typically involving cases where it would not be in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with a parent. If parents cannot agree on a schedule, a family court judge can step in and create a visitation schedule.

Visitation Can Be Supervised or Unsupervised

  • Supervised Visitation

In some cases, the courts will order supervised visitation and when a court grants a parent supervised visitation, they are not allowed to take their child and spend time with them alone. During the scheduled visitation, the parent visits with their child under the supervision of an approved individual, usually a therapist or social worker. Additionally, the visitation needs to take place in an approved location. The location could include a family member’s home, a public park, or a visitation center.
  • Unsupervised Visitation

This is the most common type of visitation, if a parent has unsupervised visitation, it means, they are free to spend time with their child alone. The type of visitation a parent has depends on the schedule and could range from just a few hours to overnight and extended visits. Sometimes, will be specific cases when a mother is breastfeeding, the non-custodial parent could be asked to visit the child at the mother´s house until the baby can take from a bottle. cases in which the limitations are specified in advance.

10 Factors Impacting When Child Custody Decisions Are Made

You and your child’s other parent have the option of creating a child custody arrangement that works for everyone without legal intervention. However, if you’re unable to make critical decisions, you can leave it up to a family court judge. A judge will always do what is in the child’s best interest to maintain their health, safety, and well-being. To help make custody determinations, they will consider many crucial factors, including:
  1. The age and health of the child
  2. The age and health of both parents
  3. The relationship the child has with each parent
  4. Which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver to date
  5. The child’s needs
  6. The ability each parent has to provide for their child
  7. The willingness of each parent to foster and maintain a close relationship with their child
  8. The child’s preferences, depending on the child's age, maturity, and level of understanding
  9. Any history of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
  10. Any other details the judge feels are relevant to the case

Child Custody Mediation

Mediation may be a viable option for parents looking to work together to come up with a favorable child custody arrangement. Mediation involves both parents and their lawyers, if represented, coming together to work with a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator gets to know both parents and their goals as they attempt to facilitate collaboration and compromise between both parties. Mediation may require several meetings. In the end, if the process is successful, the mediator documents the agreement and submits it to the court for approval. The mediation process is cost-effective, saves time, and has a high success rate. Therefore, it is popular among parents who wish to eliminate any contention and ill feelings to join forces and create the best resolution for their children and themselves.

Experienced & well-connected lawyers protecting your relationship with your child

If you’re interested in learning more about family law, child support, legal custody, child custody issues, or mediation for child custody, or if you believe it may be a good option for you, our child custody lawyers from Curran Moher Weis can answer your questions and discuss the process with you. Our team of knowledgeable family lawyers has provided legal counsel with favorable resolutions to families in Fairfax, VA, and nearby.

Creating (or Changing) Your Ideal Child Custody Agreement

Your child custody agreement may well be the most important component of your divorce. In creating an agreement or changing an existing agreement, one should always consult the sound legal advice of an experienced child custody lawyer.

Child Custody Modification

In the best-case scenario, child custody arrangements work for everyone involved, and both parents comply. But as time goes on, you could find yourself needing to modify the agreement for one reason or another. However, parents are only able to modify their child custody agreement if the parent requesting the change can show they’ve experienced a material change and the modification would be in the child’s best interest. Parents may need to modify their child custody agreement when:
  • There are changes in a parent’s work schedule or employment
  • A parent is looking to relocate to a different state
  • The needs of the child have changed
  • A parent’s health worsened, affecting their ability to care for the child
  • Any other circumstance arises that impacts the child negatively or a parent’s capabilities to support or take care of their child
Parents can agree on the changes among themselves and submit them to the court for approval. Nonetheless, if they are unable to agree, parents can petition the court to request the change. A child custody lawyer can provide legal support throughout the modification process, helping you get the outcome you and your child need.

Meet with an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Near Fairfax VA

We can help you explore the child custody and visitation options that are best suited to you and your children. Call us today at (571) 328-5022 or request a consultation to speak with the best Fairfax child custody attorney at Curran Moher Weis, serving Northern Virginia, and nearby families.