Child Custody and Visitation

Charlottesville Child Custody Lawyer

As a Charlottesville child custody lawyer (child visitation attorney), my job is to represent you in negotiations and, if negotiations are not productive, in court. Child custody and visitation disputes can be complex and are often among the most emotionally-charged family law matters. For these reasons, you are best served by a compassionate and experienced child custody attorney. 


The Best Interests of a Child

Our initial objective is to negotiate a custody/visitation agreement with the contesting party. When compromise is unachievable or unacceptable, the court steps in. Our objective then shifts to presenting your case to the judge in a manner most likely to achieve your custody and visitation goals.

The court's guiding principle in all custody and visitation cases is the best interest of the child. Our task is to show the court that your custody and visitation wishes and plans align with the child's best interests. 

The court will consider ten statutory factors. Under some but not all cases, the court may also consider your child's preferences.  

Parents May Agree on Custody and Visitation

As in all family law issues, you and your spouse (or contesting party) have an opportunity to negotiate a custody and visitation agreement before appearing in court. When a mutually acceptable settlement is possible, I will work with you to negotiate custody and visitation. After all, you know what is in your child's best interests--much more so than a judge who will spend only a few hours at trial getting to know the people and the unique facts of your case. I will guide you through every stage of the settlement negotiations. If the other parent is unwilling or unable to negotiate a custody and visitation arrangement that's mutually agreeable, I will present a strong case on your behalf in court.

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Custody and Visitation Defined

The terms "custody" and "visitation" have specific legal meanings. The term "custody" can be broken into two sub-parts, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions regarding the life of the child, such as religious upbringing, education, and major medical care. Depending on the facts of a case, the court may award joint legal custody to both parents, or sole legal custody to one parent. Physical custody concerns the custodial time that the child will spend with each child. If a parent has the child for more than fifty percent of the time, that parent is oftentimes referred to as the primary custodian, and the other parent is award visitation or parenting time.


Child Custody Court Must Weigh These Factors

In Charlottesville child custody cases, the court must consider 10 statutory factors. These all-encompassing factors include:

  1. your child's age, physical, emotional, and mental condition;
  2. your child's changing developmental needs;
  3. each party's abilities to meet your child's changing needs;
  4. each parent or party's age, physical and mental condition;
  5. each party's relationship to -- and with -- your child;
  6. the role each party has played in your child's life;
  7. each party's ability to maintain a close and continuing relationship with your child;
  8. each party's propensity to facilitate and support contact with the other parent
  9. each party's ability and willingness to cooperatively solve disputes relating to the child
  10. any history of abuse

The court may consider your child's wishes, but only in certain situations.

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