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relocationAs is often the case with legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” The determination of child custody is often one of the most acrimonious and difficult in a divorce or separation case. Often, a child may reside primarily with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. In other cases, parents share physical custody of a child for predetermined periods of time. In our modern society, moving to a new city or even across is country has become common, but these moves obviously have significant implications when it comes to court ordered child custody arrangements. When a custody arrangement exists, the parent who wishes to relocate a child must first obtain the permission of a court with jurisdiction over their custody case. Because of the complicated legal issues that often arise in these cases, anyone who wishes to relocate or to stop the other parent from relocating with a child should discuss their situation with a Virginia child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

What is the Standard for Relocating a Child in Virginia?

A common theme in determining child custody arrangements is determining what type of arrangement would be in the best interest of the child. Cases regarding child relocation are no exception. In determining if a move is in the best interests of the child, a court will consider several factors, including the following:

  • The effect the move will have of the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
  • How much the proposed move would affect the non-custodial parent’s visitation with the child
  • The reasons that the custodial parent wants to move, including proximity to other family members, opportunities for employment, and the economic stability of the parent

In addition, the court will consider the level of involvement the non-custodial parent has with the child. If there is little or no involvement, the court will likely conclude that the move will have little effect on the non-custodial parent’s relationship, and is therefore more likely to allow the move.

Contact a Virginia child custody lawyer today

If you are involved in a child relocation issue or any other matter regarding child custody, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with attorney Raymond B. Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410.

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fathers rightsThough divorce can mean many significant changes for your family, one thing divorce should not automatically affect is a father’s rights to spend time with his children. Divorce does not change or eliminate the parental rights and responsibilities that either parent has under the law. Those rights and responsibilities include having a relationship with your children and helping to financially support them. In many cases, fathers may feel shut out of their child’s life following a divorce, especially if the mother becomes the custodial parent. An experienced family law attorney can help you stand up for your rights as a father.

Custody determinations

First, fathers should understand that courts in Virginia do not automatically give any preference to the mother when making custody determinations. In fact, the court focuses on the quality of the relationship between child and parent, not the quantity of time a child has spent with one parent over the other. Therefore, even a stay at home mom would not be inherently favored over a father who worked full time.

Next, even if you do not have primary physical custody, you still have rights regarding your child. There are two types of child custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the time the child is actually physically present with you. Legal custody, however, refers to your ability to make decisions for your child, including education, medical care, and religious upbringing. Therefore, even if you do not have physical custody, you still have the right to be involved in the important decisions about your child’s life.

Visitation rights

If you do not have physical custody, you likely have a visitation arrangement. Every father has the right to have the visitation agreement enforced if your child’s mother is not following the agreement. Both parents are expected under the law to encourage and foster a relationship with the other parent. You should not have to deal with a former spouse who unlawfully keeps your children away from you.

In short, fathers should be aware of their rights and should fight for them. If you believe your father’s rights are being violated, you should not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410. Our experienced Virginia family law attorneys can help you preserve your rights as a father.

child custodyFew legal issues may become as messy and complicated as custody determinations.  If parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, courts then have the task of deciding where, how, and by whom the child or children in question will be raised.  Courts take this task very seriously and, according to Virginia law, focus on one main factor when making custody and visitation decisions: the best interests of the child.  In examining the best interests of the child, courts may have to dig deep into the details of each parent’s personal and financial lives, which can be uncomfortable to say the least.  A Virginia child custody attorney can help protect your parental rights while trying to make the process as easy as possible.

“Cases involving child custody issues are among the most delicate cases that family law firms will ever handle”

–        Sean Smallwood, ESQ., attorney at The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A.

What does “best interests of the child” mean?

Virginia courts favor joint custody whenever possible, since divorce does not necessarily affect your parental rights.  However, the court will always try to determine what custody situation is in the best interest of the child.  Courts try to remain as objective as possible when doing so, and consider factors such as:

  • The age, physical health, and mental condition of the child;
  • The emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of the child and the ability of each parent to fulfill them;
  • The age, physical health, and mental condition of each parent;
  • The role each parent has previously played in the child’s life, including existing emotional relationships;
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage relationships with the other parent and to cooperate with each other regarding decisions for the child;
  • Any history of domestic abuse or sexual abuse in the family;
  • The child’s preference, if the court believes the child is old enough to sufficiently understand the nature of this decision;
  • Any other factors that the court deems necessary.

If you are facing a custody battle, the well-being of your child and your relationship with your child are both at stake.  For this reason, you always want to have an experienced family law attorney on your side.  Do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger today for help.

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