Virginia Child Custody Attorney
Virginia Child Support Lawyer
There are many considerations in determining custody of your children and the details of parenting arrangements. Attorney Raymond B. Benzinger can advise on how the court would likely rule, avoiding unnecessary litigation and allowing you to focus on what you can control.
Mr. Benzinger represents divorcing or never-married parents in child custody proceedings in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William counties. In addition to more than 25 years in private family law practice, he serves as a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem, Neutral Case Evaluator and Motions Conciliator. These appointments give him unique insights into judicial thinking and divorce through your child’s eyes. Arrange a consultation today.
Child Custody and Visitation
Physical custody refers to the daily responsibilities and where the child lives. Efforts to legislate “shared parenting” have not gone far — the court typically awards primary custody to one parent and visitation rights to the other, based on the best interests of the child (see below).
There is a trend toward joint legal custody — both parents share in decisions about the child’s education, health care and religious upbringing, and are required to confer with each other on these matters. Another trend is split custody, as when a son lives with the dad and a daughter lives with the mother, with cross-visitation.
Raymond Benzinger urges parents to avoid child custody battles for reasons such as the following:
Children fare best when both parents are actively involved in their lives.
The court rarely grants sole custody without evidence of abuse or neglect, or irreparable hostility.
Custody litigation has a steep cost, financially and emotionally.
Instead, Mr. Benzinger focuses on the details of the parenting arrangement, which can get very complicated. Is there a girlfriend/boyfriend who will be around your child?? How will you handle holidays and summer vacation? Will there be geographic restrictions on where the parents can live? And, should any post decree modifications be necessary regarding custody arrangements, he can readily address these issues.
Financial support is determined by state guidelines. Mr. Benzinger’s role is to ensure that the court has accurate data about the other parent’s income, such as a non-custodial parent who is self-employed or intentionally underemployed to lower support obligations.
The level of child support changes when visitation is at least 90 days a year. Thus, the Virginia Legislature has defined “day” (24-hour period) and “half day” (overnight visitation).
Mr. Benzinger also handles child support modifications that arise when there has been a significant change in material circumstances.
Best Interests of the Child
It does not matter who has the higher-paying job or lives in the best neighborhood. In Virginia, the courts weigh ten factors in awarding custody:
• Age, physical and mental condition, and consideration of the child’s changing developmental needs.
• Age and physical and mental condition of each parent.
• Relationship existing between each parent and each child, including positive involvement with the child’s life and ability to meet the child’s emotional, intellectual and physical needs.
• The needs of the child in relationship to siblings, peers and extended family.
• The role each parent has played and will play in the child’s upbringing.
• Each parent’s propensity to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent; it must be reasonable.
• Each parent’s willingness and ability to maintain a close continuing relationship with the child and cooperate in resolving disputes related to the child.
• The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express it.
• Any history of family abuse.
• Other factors the court deems pertinent.
Contact Raymond Benzinger to schedule a consultation about child custody, child support or divorce.