This is the next post in my series on the rights of fathers in Virginia. My last article discussed how Virginia views the rights of a father as a general matter. It is important to understand that our state does not grant one parent preference over another on the basis of gender. It is also important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are going through a child custody dispute. In this article I will discuss another important topic – why unmarried dads should obtain a custody order as soon as possible. If you require assistance then contact my office to speak with a lawyer.
I previously discussed why it is generally a good idea for unmarried parents to obtain a custody order. A point I did not address in that article is the potential ramifications of not obtaining an order when unmarried parents are living apart. It is important to understand that one of the factors that a court will look at, when determining child custody, is the historical relationship between the child and each parent. If, for example, the child has been with the mother on weekdays for the last several years, and the father only had weekend visitation, then the dad may have difficulty convincing the court that the current arrangement is not in the child’s best interests. In other words, the longer a dad allows an undesirable situation to go on then the more likely it is that such a situation will become their permanent arrangement.
Many fathers make the mistake of thinking that they will “file for custody later.” The problem with this is that when you ask the Court to enter a custody order then you must show that the arrangement you are requesting is in the child’s best interests. The Court will likely doubt that the arrangement, which you have been following with your ex, is not in the child’s interests; the Court’s will reason that if there was a problem with the current arrangement then you would have filed something earlier. This is why, if you are an unmarried dad, you should seek an order that reflects your desired custody arrangement as soon as possible.
Contact my office today to speak with a family law attorney. I pride myself on providing a high level of service and my firm is ready to assist you in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. We also service Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York, and James City.