Divorce is difficult under any circumstance, but it is especially painful when children are involved. You likely have many unanswered questions. How can you best protect your child emotionally? What happens if you or a spouse move out of the area? How does child support work?
How Child Custody Is Determined
Family courts in Virginia try to maintain the child’s time and contact with both parents whenever possible and appropriate. The judge will consider a variety of factors including the mental fitness of each parent, financial resources, living situation, and any preferences an older child has. The goal is never for one parent to “win” over another but to maintain regular contact between the child and both parents. Outside of the factors listed above, Virginia also specifically considers:
- The child’s current age and mental health
- The nature of the parent-child relationship
- The parent's familiarity with the child’s needs and ability to provide for those needs
- The parent's willingness to allow and continue the relationship between the child and the other parent
- The parent's willingness and ability to work together to resolve disputes
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse of the child
- Any history of substance abuse
How Child Support Is Determined
Family court will also determine if child support should be paid, and if so what amount. Virginia child support is usually determined through consideration of the following:
- The earnings of each parent
- Any other children the parents have together, as well as children under the care of a parent from previous or current relationships
- Costs that must be addressed including child care or medical conditions
- The current custodial arrangement between the parents
Child support can also always be reevaluated during future court dates. It may be adjusted if one of the parents loses a job or if a child has an increased need due to medical or psychological reasons.
When a Parent Relocates
If a divorced parent chooses to relocate out of the area, Virginia law requires them to give both the court and the other parent 30 days' notice. The relocating party must also provide their new address unless they have received court permission not to.
If a parent wishes to modify the current custody agreement, they must provide proof of a notable change to the same court that established the original agreement. In Virginia, modifications are rarely made. In most instances, the non-relocating parent will become the primary custodian. This is in the best interest of the child who would otherwise need to be uprooted from school, activities, and other established life patterns.
A custody arrangement may be modified in serious circumstances including the death of a parent or one of the parents involved in criminal activity.
Do You Need to Speak to a Virginia Divorce Attorney?
If you are considering divorce you need to speak with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia and look forward to helping you.