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  • How Hard Is It to Get Full Custody in Virginia?

    Pursuing full custody of a child in Virginia is a complicated process. It requires following specific legal procedures and laws. Typically, the courts determine custody cases based on the child’s best interests and various other factors.

    Full custody is only awarded if one parent presents an overwhelming case in their favor and the judge decides the arrangement is appropriate and meets the child’s best interests.

    Factors Affecting a Child’s Best Interests

    Judges presiding over child custody cases often hesitate to award full custody to one parent. Commonwealth law requires courts to ensure minor children have continuing and frequent contact with both parents when appropriate.

    A judge must encourage each parent to share child-rearing responsibilities and consider the importance of the parent-child relationship when deciding on a child custody case. They will review what’s in the child’s best interests and factors, such as:

    • Each parent’s age, physical condition, and mental condition
    • Both parent’s relationship with the child, including whether they can meet the child’s intellectual, emotional, and physical needs
    • The child’s mental and physical condition, age, and developmental needs
    • Each parent’s demonstrated willingness and ability to cooperate to resolve disputes and maintain a close relationship with their child
    • Both parent’s actions supporting each other to contact the child, including whether one unreasonably denied visitation for the other
    • Each parent’s role in caring for the child so far

    The judge can also review a history of criminal convictions, sexual abuse, threats, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, or child abuse. If a parent is convicted of sexual conduct with a child, they are not allowed custody.

    Sometimes, the courts consider what a child wants. The child must be of reasonable understanding, intelligence, age, and experience to express their preference for custody.

    How to File for Full Custody in Virginia

    You must file a petition with the Court Services Unit of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to start the child custody process. Typically, filing in the jurisdiction where the parent has lived for six months, or longer is required. Your petition must include factors the judge can review when deciding on the case.

    You must file an affidavit with the petition. The affidavit should include information such as:

    • The child’s current address or whereabouts
    • Places the child resided within the last five years
    • Names and addresses of people the child lived with during the past five years

    You must sign the affidavit before a court official or notary public and send a notice of filing to the other parent. Some courts automatically notify parents of a petition for custody. However, the procedure differs from one county to the next. You should contact the courthouse to determine if you need to provide the notice.

    You can file a motion to amend or review if a court order for custody already exists. The judge will schedule a hearing for both parents to attend. The judge might order mediation so you can try to resolve the issue among yourselves first. They can also issue an order for temporary custody or appoint an attorney for the child.

    The case will proceed to trial if you and the other parent can’t agree to a custody arrangement. The judge will determine whether to grant you full custody of your child.

    Contact a Dedicated Child Custody Attorney Today

    Anchor Legal Group, PLLC understands the importance of protecting your child during a divorce. Negotiating with your ex for full custody can be challenging, especially if they disagree with your decision. You need an experienced and skilled lawyer on your side to help you fight for a favorable outcome.

    If you want to pursue full custody of your child in Virginia Beach, VA, call us at 757-529-0000 for a consultation to learn more about your available options.