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Approaching Child Custody Matters in Virginia

Along with property division, contested child custody matters can fuel bitter legal action for years. Child custody battles may be particularly devastating for the emotional distress it causes children of parents in conflict. In Virginia, there several approaches to working out custody matters.

In all legal matters involving the custody of children, the solution that creates the least conflict is the best approach. Too often, the emotional unhappiness, frustration or anger of one or both parents is shifted to children who see their family home divided and their parents changed forever. Consider these paths toward resolution of child custody issues:

  • Parental agreement: In an amicable custody matter, parents oftentimes see their way past their own personal conflict with the other parent to making reasonable custody and visitation agreements. These agreements truly take into account the history and needs of each child and create the best parenting environments for families.
  • Alternative dispute methods: Negotiation and mediation are good avenues toward satisfying custody arrangements. With less emotional and financial cost, couples may be able come to an agreement through their attorneys or with the assistance of a certified mediator, who is a neutral party trained to help people in conflict reach a resolution.
  • Litigation: Most people agree litigated custody matters are the least likely to produce the best arrangement for children and parents. Judges are only given a short amount of time to hear both sides of a story and make a decision on very limited information.  Oftentimes, court ordered custody arrangements that remedy the conflict of the situation rather than meet the real needs of children in the long run.

In a contested custody matter, the court may involve custodial evaluators, a guardian ad litem and other legal personnel. If the decision is left to the Virginia legal system, courts rely on best interest factors to decide how and where the children live.

In cases of divorce, by agreement or by ruling, child custody must be decided before the divorce in Virginia is granted. If considering divorce or already involved in a child custody dispute, seek experienced legal counsel such as Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, P.C. to help you accurately assess your case and help you navigate through your options.

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