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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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How to Prove a Parent is Unfit in Virginia Child Custody Cases?


Like in most other states, Virginia family law considers it is in the child’s best interests when they can spend time with both of their parents. But what if the other parent is unfit to make the right parenting decisions or his/her presence is a detriment to the child’s safety?

In other words, how do you prove that a parent is unfit in a Virginia child custody case? To answer that question, speak with a Leesburg family lawyer to break through the court’s “children’s best interests” standard and protect your child’s future and well-being.

When the Other Parent is Unfit for Child Custody

After divorce, especially a messy one, it is not uncommon for divorced parents to accuse the other parent of all kinds of things, including child neglect and abuse, to win a more favorable settlement.

But no judge in Virginia wants to deny a child access to one of their parents if they can avoid it, so any allegations that would deem a parent unfit in a child custody case are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

However, when you have valid grounds to claim that your ex is unfit, you need a robust legal case supported by evidence to convince the court that the other parent would expose your kids to unsafe situations or be detrimental to the child’s safety.

How to Prove a Parent is Unfit in Virginia?

To determine “fitness” in a parent, Virginia family courts consider a wide range of factors. The court will look for strong evidence to deem a parent unfit in a child custody case. The following are considered “strong evidence” to prove an unfit parent:

  • Inability to fulfill the child’s needs for food, shelter, and clothing;
  • Lack of mental capacity or sound mind to make healthy decisions on behalf of minor children;
  • Inability to financially support the children (i.e., an unfit parent has no means of fulfilling basic financial needs);
  • Failure to maintain a safe, loving, and healthy environment for the kids;
  • Violent tendencies that would place a child in harm’s way (i.e., an unfit parent is sexually, physically, or emotionally abusive to the kids); and
  • Inability to put the child’s needs ahead of their own.

If you have evidence that any of the factors mentioned above are true, the judge may rule the other parent unfit for custody. However, since your ex will most likely dispute your allegations, you need a detail-oriented, aggressive, and results-driven Leesburg child custody attorney by your side.

When Do Virginia Courts Deem an Unfit Parent?

When it comes to proving that a parent is unfit for custody or child visitation in Virginia, the court might:

  • Review court documents
  • Analyze health records
  • Observe parent-child interactions
  • Interview both parents and children
  • Interview professionals who can dispute or confirm a parent’s fitness
  • Order psychological testing or other tests

Many parents are wondering whether it is legal to use digital evidence to prove an unfit parent in Virginia. The answer is yes. Such digital pieces of evidence as photos, videos, and even comments on social media platforms can help prove that a parent is unfit for custody or visitation.

If you want to have sole custody of your children because the other parent is unfit, contact a Leesburg child custody lawyer to prepare a strong legal case. After all, Virginia courts are not easily convinced when it comes to denying parents custody or visitation rights. Contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC, to discuss your legal strategy. Call at 703-997-4982 today.


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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!