According to County Health Rankings, 30 percent of Virginia’s households involve single-parent living arrangements. This means that, for many of these parents, child custody issues surfaced at some point in time. Unfortunately, some of these questions didn’t always produce accurate information, as can often happen with complicated legal topics. Considerable misconceptions regarding child custody abound, and they can put you in a difficult spot.
By working with a skilled Virginia child custody lawyer, you can avoid the confusion and stick to the issues that matter with respect to minor children. Still, it’s important to clear up some of the myths regarding child custody in Virginia.
- The mother always gets custody of minor children. This may have been the case at one time with the traditional approach to family law matters, but it’s definitely a myth under modern divorce laws. When making decisions on child custody and visitation, courts turn to the best interests of the child, a set of factors listed in the statute regarding minor children.
- The parent who leaves the marriage always gets custody. Much like #1 above, this is also a misconception when custody arises in the context of divorce. Divorce laws don’t punish the parent who files for divorce by denying custody. The only reasons a court may place limitations on custody or visitation are where a parent has been violent, abusive, or engaged in other wrongdoing. The nine factors, plus one “catch-all,” describing the child’s best interests are paramount.
- Child custody matters are only an issue in divorce cases. Though child custody is addressed by Virginia’s divorce laws, it could also come up in paternity cases. When the parents are unmarried, the father must establish first establish paternity to exercise his parental rights. Once he is legally recognized as the child’s father, he can request a court to determine custody and visitation.
- A child custody order is permanent. When circumstances change, parents may need to revisit the court’s order regarding custody of minor children. This is a myth because it’s impractical to presume that the status quo will remain in place until the child reaches the age of majority. If one parent must relocate for a job, family, or other reasons, it’s possible to modify a child custody order.
- Going through a hearing is the only way to get a determination on child custody. Virginia law encourages parents to reach an agreement regarding child custody and visitation, whether the issue is central to divorce or paternity proceedings. If you and the child’s other parent can establish a reasonable, appropriate parenting plan, the court will review the terms of the agreement to ensure the arrangement complies with the child’s best interests standard.
Discuss Issues Regarding Children with a Skilled Virginia Child Custody Attorney
If you’re involved in a child custody case in Fairfax or other parts of Northern Virginia, please contact Leary Porter Law to schedule a consultation. We can explain how child custody laws work, whether you’re going through divorce or paternity proceedings.