This is the fourth post in my series on dealing with child custody cases involving drug use in Virginia. My last post discussed the process for filing for an emergency custody order with the Court. In this article, I will discuss what to expect at the first hearing concerning your request for an emergency change of custody. I will also further expound on the types of evidence needed to bolster one’s claim for child custody. Contact my office today to speak with an attorney if you need assistance.
As I stated in my article on Virginia’s child custody laws, our state employs the best interests standard in child custody cases. This means that the placement of a child should reflect what is in that child’s best interests. Exposure to abuse, violence, neglect, and drug use certainly are not considered to be in any child’s best interests. Nonetheless, some circumstances are more extreme than others. A Family Court Judge may be more inclined to order the immediate removal of a child from a home in which abuse or violence are rampant. In most cases, however, the Court will order that a hearing be scheduled shortly after the Petition for a change of custody has been filed. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss whether or not to grant an emergency custody change. The petitioning party will have the opportunity to present their arguments first, followed by the offending parent. The arguments in such cases will often center around evidence which involves:
- Medical history
- Attendance records
- Police reports
- Criminal records
- Testimony of other witnesses
The Judge will review all of the evidence and then decide whether removing the child or children from the custody of the offending parent would be in their best interests. In cases involving drug use, it is not uncommon for the Court to order that the offending parent be subjected to an immediate drug test. Parents that test positive for marijuana, in some cases, may be permitted to retain custody of the minor. In those instances, the emergency order may be denied, but a subsequent hearing could be scheduled to ensure that the parent complies with some sort of drug treatment program. Nonetheless, in cases involving “harder” drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, the Court may decide that the temporary removal of the child is necessary. It is important to note that if the temporary order is granted, the petitioning parent may use the ruling as a basis for obtaining permanent custody in the near future. This is why it is imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that evidence supporting your claim can be compiled and properly presented.
If you suspect that your child’s other parent is engaging in illicit drug use, contact my office today to speak with a child custody attorney. We serve clients in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York, and James City.