Parents and Child

Most Common‌ Child Custody Arrangements ‌in‌ ‌Fredericksburg‌

Child custody is one of the most sensitive and controversial family law issues. Emotions are high and strained.

Virginia courts encourage both parents to make the custody decisions. As one judge put it: “Why let a stranger make decisions about your kids when you and your ex can?”

Mother and a Child

Examples of Child Custody Arrangements

The custody agreement details where your child will live. You might be the person your child lives with most of the time (primary residential/custodial parent), but this custody agreement usually outlines when your child will spend time with the other parent (the non-custodial parent), like on weekends, holidays, and vacations, or during the week. Let’s talk about some common custody and visitation schedules.

Child Spends Weekends, Holidays with Non-Custodial Parent

You may be the primary residential parent, but the child may spend time at the other parent’s home every weekend, a mid-week dinner, and for school holidays. You may alternate major holidays and your  child may spend a larger part of vacation time with the non-custoidal parent. This is usually to make up for the lack of consistent time during the school year.  Both parents typically have the right to make joint decision-making for their child.

Mother and Daughter Love
Parent and Child

Child Alternates Time between Both Parents’ Homes

Some parents may opt to split parenting time equally. In this case a child may spend one week at each parent's house and go back and forth on a schedule. In these shared custody scenarios, parents may alternate holidays and vacation time with their kids, and both have the right to make joint parenting decisions for the child.

One Parent Gets Limited Visitation and Rights

Rarely, one parent may have restricted or no visitation rights at all. Sometimes a parent may not even have the rights to make decisions about their child.  In  domestic violence, child abuse, legal incompetency, and other unusual situations this happens when the court believes it’s in the child’s best interests to take away or limit a parent’s custody rights.

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Child Custody Arrangements for Special Circumstances

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Parent Relocates

In Virginia, when a parent plans to relocate with the child to a different state, or even to a different school district and there’s a custody order in place, each parent must by law provide at least 30 days written notice of any plan to relocate. This written notice must be given  to the court and to the co-parent.  The notice of intent to relocate must provide the new address and any change of telephone number. If you’re a parent objecting to your child relocating with the other parent, you can file an objection to relocation with the court. Either the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court or Circuit Court where your case is pending will conduct a hearing on your objection. 

 The court will listen to the reasons why you don’t want your child to move out of your area. Then it will make a decision that’s in the child’s best interests based after listening to your argument for why a move should happen and the co-parent’s reasons why they should be allowed to move away with the child. But if you don’t let the court know that you object to the relocation, the other parent will be allowed to relocate because you didn’t object. And a parent who doesn’t object will have their custody and visitation schedule changed based on the move. If you’re in  a situation where the other parent moves far away with your child, the non-custodial parent may get parenting time with their kids less often, but the upside is that it may be for a longer period of time.  For example, you may get more time with your children during holidays and vacations to make up for time lost because of the move.

Happy Family

Unmarried Parents

If you’re married to the mother of your child, if you're the husband you’re the presumed father. But if you’re not married to your child’s mother, as a father you  may acknowledge paternity by filing a paternity petition with Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court where your child lives, signing an acknowledgment of paternity form, or getting a DNA test privately or through the Virginia Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).  Father may decide to establish paternity to have rights to get a custody order giving them a residential  schedule with the child  or to request child support.

Child custody arrangements for unmarried parents are similar to parenting plans for divorced parents.

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Let Tori Bramble Help Draft Your Child Custody Agreement

The custody agreement is by far of the most critical aspects of your divorce. You should be very careful when making a custody agreement so you can maximize your time with your kids and potentially have child support reduced or receive child support from the other parent.  The Bramble Law Firm is here to help fathers develop the best strategy to ensure dads have as much access as possible to their child.