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Child Custody Filing/Hearing Process in Fredericksburg

Sometimes the emotional divorce process can drag out. One part of divorce for couples with children is agreeing on which parent the child will live with. If you’re going through a divorce in the Fredericksburg area here’s what you need to know about the child custody process in Fredericksburg.

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Parenting Plans in Virginia

The term, “parenting plan” sounds obvious, right?  You probably have an idea about what this means. But there are lots of specific things to follow in a custody and visitation parenting plan. Your life will look a lot different under a parenting plan.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is basically a custody plan you and your child’s mother or father follows – that specifies what parenting time you each have with the child as stated in the plan. Couples who are getting a divorce and have a child together should voluntarily create a parenting plan.

What’s included in a parenting plan?

A parenting plan has all the specifics about how you and your co-parent will split responsibility for parenting your kids. A major part of what a parenting plan says is:

●    Which parent will have custody of the children

●    How much time the child will spend with each parent

●    The parent who’ll be in charge of making decisions about the child

●    Ways the parents will work out disagreements about the child If you’re getting divorced, it’s a good idea to think about what kind of parenting plan will work for you to create a new normal. Take time to consider what amount of parenting time will work for you based on your current and future living situations, work schedule and any other lifestyle considerations you can think of.

Unfortunately, people going through the divorce process can’t always agree about where their kids will live and how much time they’ll spend with each parent. If parents can’t agree, a judge will make a make a parenting plan during a hearing in a Virginia domestic relations district court.

Child Custody Hearing in Bellevue

During a child custody hearing, a judge will make have a say about what custody arrangement  it finds is in your child’s best interests. The judge’s decision goes into a custody order the judge signs. What’s in the custody order is based on you telling the judge what you think  is the best after divorce living situation for your kids. Equally, your ex gets to explain what living situation they believe is ideal for the kids right now. During the custody hearing, the judge will look at the above 10 factors to make a custody decision.

The 10 Best Interests of the Child Custody Factors in Virginia

The judge must make their custody  decision based on “the best interests of the child.”  Virginia Code §20-124.3 of the Virginia Code, gives a guideline for what the judge must refer to when making a custody decision.  The “best interests of the child” decision is based on these factors:

  1. The age, physical condition, and mental condition of the child, with consideration given to the child’s changing developmental needs.

  2. The age, physical condition, and mental condition of each parent.

  3. The relationship between each parent and the child. The court will consider whether the parent has a positive involvement in the child’s life and the parent’s ability to assess and meet the child’s emotional, intellectual, and physical needs.

  4. The needs of the child. This includes the child’s important relationships with siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents and other extended family members, and peers.

  5. The role each parent has already played in raising and caring for the child and the role the parent plans to play in the future.

  6. How likely each parent is to support the child’s relationship with the other parent. If one parent has unreasonably denied the other parent contact or visitation with the child, the court can consider this.

  7. The relative willingness of each parent to maintain a close relationship with the child, and the relative willingness of each parent to cooperate in resolving disputes concerning the child.

  8. The reasonable preference of the child if the child is of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express a preference. Children 13 and over’s preferences are taken seriously by the court.

  9. Any history of family abuse or sexual abuse. If there is a history of domestic violence, the the court may ignore how likely each parent is to support the child’s relationship with the parent, as discussed in factor 6 above.

  10.  Any other factors that the court determines to be necessary and proper in making a fair determination about the best interests of the child.

Also, if you have more than one child,what’s in the best interest of one may not be in the best interests of all your kids. The judge is going to consider what’s in the best interests of each of your children as individuals using the 10 custody factors.

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How Do I Get Ready for My Hearing?

Without a doubt, it’s stressful to file for child custody and even more worrying to go through a child custody hearing. It’s important that you have an attorney on your side who can help you throughout the custody process.

Gather Evidence for Your Hearing

Your best way to get ready for your hearing is by getting all of your evidence together and preparing yourself to answer questions from a lawyer and the judge. Questions you face at a hearing may include asking questions about your living situation, job, income, work  and schedule, current time you spend with your child, your day-to-day activities, relationship status, and more. Your attorney can help you  get your evidence together and prepare you for any questions you might have to answer.

Get Witnesses for Your Hearing

You can call witnesses to the stand to tell the court about your relationship with your kids and more. This can help give you an advantage in your case. For a child custody hearing, be sure to choose your witnesses carefully. Witnesses that would be helpful to your side would be a your child’s teacher,  your close friends and relatives. A lawyer can help you decide which witnesses will be strong ones to bring to court with you.

Remain Calm & Polite During Your Hearing

During your custody hearing, always keep calm and polite. Don’t show up late to court and turn in all required documents. Make plans to  leave your children at home, unless they're told to be there by a judge or other court officer.

Before you get to court, know what you plan to say on the stand. While going through the hearing, remain respectful to everybody, including your co-parent.

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Contact a Child Custody Attorney at the Bramble Law Firm

If you’re getting a divorce and need help filing for custody of your child Tori Bramble can help. We’ll help fill out a custody agreement outlining your parenting plan, prepare for the hearing and pursue the court outcome you desire

If you have questions, call us today at (540) 628-7340 or or fill out our online contact form.