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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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Interested Party Care in Virginia


Extended families and friends often work together to ensure younger children receive the love and care they need. This can result in children living with grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, cousins, and even close family friends. The arrangement may be best for the children, and avoids a legal battle over custody when everyone agrees. Yet the adults in the parental role need some rights to ensure the children get the education, medical care, and other services they need. That is why Virginia recognizes an interested party. By becoming a lawful caregiver, you can ensure you have the rights you need to take care of the children without any issues.

How do I Become an Interested Party Caregiver?

There are a number of ways you can become involved in a custodial relationship: court placement, mediation with the parents, and placement by the birth parents. When the court is involved, it is usually because there have been allegations of child abuse or neglect by the birth parents. This may also be an arrangement you seek out if you believe the child’s parents are not fully able to care for them. In this case, you may work with the child’s parents through medication to come to an arrangement that is best for the child. This could also be an arrangement the child’s parents seek out to benefit their child.

Does an Interested Party Involve Legal Custody?

As a Interested Party caregiver, you may or may not take on legal custody of a child when you take on physical custody. If the situation is not permanent, you may not need legal custody. In this case, you cannot benefit from government programs or services for the child. You might obtain legal custody of the child if the situation is likely to be permanent. If the child has no income from their parents when you have legal custody, then you may be eligible for some government assistance. There are also situations in which you may become eligible to formally adopt the child, such as if their parents’ rights were terminated.

Another arrangement is to become an official foster parent, known as kinship foster care, which is commonly used when a child is removed from their parents due to neglect or abuse allegations. During this time, Virginia social services retains legal custody of the child.

Ensuring the Child Receives Medical Care

If you become a caregiver, you likely have questions about making sure the child gets their vaccines, sports physicals, and care when they are sick. When you have legal custody, you likely can add the child to your health insurance plan and these will be covered. However, without legal custody, there may be issues with this. Also, if you do not have health insurance, you will need to look elsewhere.

Enrolling the Child in School

As of July 1, 2013, when a child lives with you under a legal care arrangement, you have the ability to enroll the child in your local school district. You may be required to submit proof of residency and of the relationship, including your rights to the child and if the arrangement is temporary, the end date. If you do not have legal custody, you may need to provide a power of attorney that states you have the right to make education decisions for the child.

Are You Taking Care of a Child Who is Not Your Own?

If you currently have an arrangement with family where you are taking care of someone else’s child, speak with a Leesburg family law attorney from Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC today. If you have no formal or legal arrangement made, you will likely run into difficulties when it comes time to enroll the child in school or take them to the doctor for the flu. We can explain the possibilities of a kinship care arrangement and what they would entail. Call us today at 703-997-4982.



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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!