Custody disputes can be very contentious and it is often the case that at least one of the parents is dissatisfied with the court’s decision once all is said and done. However, the dissatisfied party can take some solace in knowing there is additional recourse available to them. That recourse is to appeal the decision of the court that entered the custody and visitation order to a higher court. The process for appealing a custody and visitation order in Virginia differs based on whether the order was entered by a juvenile and domestic relations court (“J&DR court”) or circuit court.
Appealing a J&DR Court Custody and Visitation Order
In the event your custody and visitation order was entered by a Virginia J&DR court, you have the automatic right and option to appeal the order to circuit court. See Virginia Code § 16.1-296(A). The right to … Read More »
If you have a custody and visitation matter before a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in Virginia, there is a chance that the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (“GAL”). The GAL will be a local attorney certified to serve as a GAL. The purpose of the GAL, per Virginia Supreme Court Rules 8:6, is to “vigorously represent the child, fully protecting the child’s interest and welfare.” It is the GAL’s job to tell the court what he or she believes is in the child’s best interests.
Following the appointment of the GAL, the parties to the case will receive an order containing the name and phone number of the GAL. The court has the discretion to appoint a GAL even over the objection of both parties to the case. The GAL will not be permitted to speak with any … Read More »
What happens to a custody order when you move from one state to another with your child(ren)? If you have moved from another state to Virginia and have a child custody order signed by a judge in your former state, you will probably want to register that order for enforcement in Virginia courts.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) provides that one state court will recognize the custody order of another state court if the order has been properly registered. The Commonwealth of Virginia has adopted UCCJEA provisions into the Virginia Code. As set forth in Virginia Code § 20-146.24, a court of the Commonwealth has a duty to enforce a child custody determination of a court of another state if either the “latter court exercised jurisdiction in substantial conformity with the UCCJEA,” or “the determination was made under … Read More »
When parents decide to split up, the first thought to enter their minds is often “What is going to happen to the children?” In many cases, one or both parties will file Petitions for Custody and Visitation to protect the interests of their minor children. Depending on which court the petitions are filed in, the parties may not obtain a resolution to their custody and visitation dispute for several months, or in some cases a year or more.
Due to the number of family law cases being filed these days, courts are encouraging parties to mediate their claims and/or enter into “consent orders.” A Consent Custody and Visitation Order is a court order wherein the parties agree on the terms relating to custody and visitation of the minor children. Although some parties just cannot agree on custody and insist on litigating … Read More »
A contested divorce or custody battle is one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life. If you suspect a cheating spouse or are concerned for the welfare of your children, you may go to any length to gather evidence to prove your suspicions. You may be tempted to break into your spouse’s emails or social media accounts, record their communications, or use surveillance to track their movements. However, it is best to seek legal advice and proceed with caution so that you do not unwittingly break the law, and expose yourself to criminal and financial consequences. Furthermore, evidence you obtain unlawfully may be excluded as evidence—making its gathering not worth the risk in many cases.
Intercepting Your Spouse’s Emails and Conversations
The Interception of Wire, Electronic or Oral Communications Act, found in Virginia Code § 19.2-61 through § 19.2-70.3, governs the legality of … Read More »
You have accepted the fact that your marriage is ending and divorce is inevitable. But you want to do everything you can to ensure you have as much time with your children as possible. How can you best prepare yourself for a battle over custody?
Improve Your Communication. You need to do your part to open the lines of communication between you and your spouse regarding your children. Find a way to talk with your spouse about your children’s needs and desires. The communication must be positive and productive. You want to demonstrate that you will foster a relationship between your children and your spouse. You must show that you can co-parent with your spouse. Your emails, instant messages, text messages to your spouse or to others about your spouse must not be riddled with curse words, insults, or other damaging banter. Such … Read More »
Passport applications for children under the age of 14 require the signatures of both parents. However, in situations where parents share joint legal custody, one parent may not consent and may actively seek to prevent the child’s removal from the United States. In these situations, state courts can authorize or restrict international travel, and may even order a parent to cooperate in securing a passport for their child.
In 2001, the U.S. government began requiring both parents’ signatures on a minor child’s passport application. This rule applies to new passports for children under the age of 14. Children over the age of 16 only require one parent’s signature. Prior to 2001, one parent was able to complete a child’s passport application without the other parent being in agreement or even knowing that an application was submitted. The new rule was created to … Read More »
If you are facing a custody or visitation case in Virginia, it is especially important that you maintain and strengthen your co-parenting skills. Doing so will benefit your children, and can only help you in court.
As a parent, it is human nature to put your children’s needs first in every part of life. In Virginia, courts adopt this same view when making determinations regarding child custody and visitation. Virginia courts are statutorily required to take each of ten “best interest factors” into consideration before making a ruling. Although all the factors are important, two factors may have swaying power when the court is faced with two genuinely good parents:
“[t]he propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;” … Read More »
It is very common these days for both parents to work outside of the home, whether on a part-time or full-time basis. For many parents, this requires a juggling of responsibilities and it also requires making sure that children are supervised and looked after appropriately. It is difficult enough for many parents to find the appropriate care for their children when two parents are living under the same roof; however, the situation becomes even more complicated when parties are separated or divorced.
While Virginia law does not provide a specific age at which you can leave your child at home alone, many Virginia counties set their own guidelines for supervision of minor children. These guidelines are typically drafted and developed by social workers and other community members. These county-specific guidelines are not laws; however, not following them can have legal implications.
Virginia courts … Read More »
Many family law clients ask the same question during their initial consultation: “which court should I file in?” In Virginia, both the juvenile and domestic relations district court (“J&DR court”) and the circuit court handle family law cases. The J&DR court has the power to hear matters concerning custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. The circuit court can hear all of the same issues, in addition to divorce and equitable distribution.
Unmarried couples with children must file in the J&DR court for custody, visitation, and child support to be determined. For couples who are divorcing, there are factual, procedural, and strategic considerations that come into play when determining which court to start in. Generally speaking, if one of the parties has grounds for a divorce, it may make more sense to begin the matter in circuit court, but this is … Read More »