Norfolk Family Law Attorney
Divorce and child custody matters are common disputes when it comes to family law. However, there are a variety of other issues that fall under the umbrella of “family law”. Garrett Law Group, PLC is a full-service family law firm available to handle any of your family law needs.
Child Custody & Visitation
Child custody matters are arguably the most emotional and contested issues in family law, regardless if child custody is part of a divorce filing or as a stand alone matter by parties who were never married. The Virginia Code lists factors the judge is required to consider when determining what is in the “best interest of the child”, the standard by which all child custody matters are decided. In addition to these factors, the appellate courts of Virginia have issued volumes of case law decisions which guide the court, attorneys, and the parties in applying those factors.
Custody of a child is broken into two parts, “legal custody” and “physical custody”. Legal custody is the authority to make decisions for the child, such as medical care, education determination, religious preferences, etc. The overwhelming majority of custody cases result in “joint legal custody”, meaning each parent shares equally in that decision making process. Physical custody determines where the child will reside on a day-to-day basis. Physical custody is further categorized into several types: “sole”, “primary”, “shared”, and “split”. Sole physical custody means the child resides only with one parent, with little or no visitation or parenting time for the other parent. Primary physical custody means the child resides primarily with one parent with regular visitation or parenting time to the other parent. Shared physical custody means that each parent has a significant amount of time with the child, at least 90 days per year for each parent. Split custody cases are those involving multiple children where each parent has physical custody of one or more of the children.
In Virginia, child support guidelines have been established in Virginia Code § 20-108.2. The calculation of child support is wholly income driven. The law states “there shall be a rebuttable presumption” the amount calculated by the guidelines is the proper amount of child support to be awarded. The law does allow for certain credits for other obligations, such as spousal support and the support of other children.
Paternity may be established by a number of ways in Virginia. The most common methods of establishing paternity are acknowledgement under oath by the father, or by genetic testing. Virginia also allows for alternative methods for establishing paternity, such as cohabitating with and evidence of sexual intercourse with the mother at the probable time of conception, knowingly allowing the child to use the father’s surname, and claiming the child as a dependent on tax returns.
Virginia also has a provision for a man who has legally been determined to be the father, by one of the alternative methods above, to disestablish paternity. The father would have to pay the costs of the genetic testing, and if determined not to be the father, he would be relieved of any future obligations to and responsibilities for the child. He would, however, be responsible for any obligations existing at the time of his filing of the petition, including any child support obligation pursuant to a court or administrative order.
Relocation & Move Aways
Relocation and Move Aways are some of the most difficult matters in child custody and visitation cases. Unlike some states, Virginia has no presumption that the custodial parent has the prerogative to relocate either within the State of Virginia or to another state. This has a significant effect on military members here in Norfolk who may have physical custody of their child, and then get orders to relocate to another duty station. Virginia law requires that either party intending to relocate, whether that location is across the street, across the state or across the country, must notify the court and the other party, in writing, at least 30 days prior to the intended relocation. If the non-relocating parent objects to the relocation, the parent seeking to relocate with the child must seek court approval before relocating.
Relocation and move away matters are extremely fact driven; every case is unique. There are volumes of cases from the Virginia appellate courts that guide these cases. Whether you are the relocating parent, or the parent remianing locally, you should contact our Norfolk family law attorney to discuss these matters as soon as possible.
Other Family Law Matters Garrett Law Group, PLC handles:
Child Removal Matters
Child Protective Orders
Reach us by phone (757) 422-4646 or click here to contact us. We are here to help.