Uncontested divorces are common in the Commonwealth of Virginia. An uncontested divorce refers to a divorce where both individuals are in agreement on issues regarding child custody, child support, property settlements and the division of debts and assets. Uncontested divorces are generally much smoother, more efficient, less expensive and less stressful than a contested divorce.
Contested divorces are filed when couples aren’t able to come to an agreement in regards to dividing assets, sharing child custody, deciding upon alimony and so forth. If you do plan on filing for a contested divorce in Virginia, you should consult with one of our skilled divorce attorneys. Our family law attorneys can inform you of your legal rights, help you come up with a fair settlement agreement, serve as a mediator between you and your spouse, help you determine the appropriate child support, and represent you at trial if necessary. Our attorneys commonly handle divorce actions in Chesterfield, Powhatan, Henrico, Richmond and other counties in the greater-Richmond area.
When it comes to Virginia child custody law, there is one consideration which a judge will take into account above all others — “the best interests of the child.” Of course, what truly is in “the best interests of the child” is often the subject of considerable dispute.
When the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court or Circuit Court tries to determine what “the best interest of the child” is, the judge will look at each situation on a case by case basis and take into account a wide variety of factors including but not limited to the age of the child, the ability of each parent to care for the child, and the compatibility of the child with each parent. Because of the myriad factors that go into each Virginia child custody decision, and because of the subjective nature of each of these factors, having an experienced Virginia child custody lawyer on your side to protect your parental interests and the interests of your children is essential. Our child custody attorneys have the experience and professionalism to make sure your interests are well-represented.
Under Virginia law, there are a number of different custody options available. The first possibility would be joint child custody. There are two types of joint custody: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Virginia law states that under joint legal custody, both parents have the right to contribute to major decisions regarding their children, and both parents share equal responsibility in carrying out those decisions. Joint physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the amount of time that a child is permitted to spend with each parent. It is important that you and your child custody attorney discuss whether you will petition the court for joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or sole legal or physical custody. Note that your child support payment schedule will rely greatly on your child custody schedule.
Virginia child custody and visitation schedules vary widely from case to case, and may take into account the wishes of your children (depending on their age), as well as you and your spouse’s work schedules and a number of other factors. A child visitation schedule might consist of alternating weekends between parents, a mid-week visit, open telephone contact, and an even distribution of time during holidays and school vacations. Our divorce attorneys will also talk with you about petitioning the court to allow your children to be with their mother on Mother’s Day and their father on Father’s Day, should you wish. Furthermore, a child’s birthday may alternate years, as can important holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Considering the wide variety of considerations and options available to each particular family, it is important that you sit down with a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer to make sure nothing is missed and all scenarios are discussed so that you create a comprehensive child custody and visitation schedule that is compatible with Virginia law and that works well for you and your children.
When a change in your schedule or lifestyle takes place, you may need to petition the court for a modification of your child custody schedule. Our attorneys can often petition the court for a change in your child custody schedule if you have changed jobs or work schedules, if one parent is not providing a safe environment for the children, or if one parent decides to move out of state. If there has been a significant change in your job or lifestyle, please consult with one of our family law attorneys so that we can help ensure that the time you spend with your children is not hindered in any way.
As with Virginia child custody, Virginia child support can be hotly contested during a divorce. Interestingly, Virginia’s child support laws allow for a wide array of possibilities between spouses, including holding both parents (regardless of gender), or only parent (again regardless of gender) responsible for paying child support until a child is 20 years old, dies, graduates from high school, marries, is emancipated, or joins the military.
Generally speaking, in Virginia the non-custodial parent in a divorce is often required to pay child support to the custodial parent for the child’s living expenses. The amount and duration of the child support obligation will vary widely from family to family, and will depend on circumstances include the gross income of each parent, the potential income of each parent, the cost of health insurance and medical expenses, school expenses, food and general living expenses, and more. With so much at stake, we suggest that when dealing with a child support issue you have an experienced child support attorney on your side to protect your interests and the interests of your children. Our experienced child custody attorneys are here to help.