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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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What Are My Custody Rights As A Grandparent?

As our children grow up and start families of their own, we always hope their homes are full of love and stability. The joy we feel at the birth of our own children may only be rivaled by that of the entrance of grandchildren to this world. Unfortunately, life sometimes deals our children’s families a hand we never hoped would never come.

Divorce, substance abuse, mental illness, and other circumstances may place grandchildren in precarious situations where we as grandparents feel are unhealthy to the upbringing of the child. In these situations, it may be necessary to seek court action to remove children from unsafe environments.

Grandparents considering seeking child custody should understand there are specific circumstances in which courts may award custody of grandchildren to grandparents. The Virginia child custody attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC have years of experience dealing with these matters and can help guide grandparents to do what is best for their grandchildren.

Under what circumstances can I gain custody of my grandchildren?

In Virginia, custody disputes between parents and non-parents (including grandparents) presume the best interests of the child are best served while in the custody of the child’s parents. Grandparents seeking custody of their grandchildren must show the courts parental custody is not in the child’s best interests and would instead be better served with themselves.

According to the Virginia State Bar, there are five situations where grandparents may be able to show the courts the interest of the child may not be served in the custody of the parent. They include:

  • The child’s parent being unfit;
  • Previous reassignment of the child’s custody;
  • Parental abdication of custody rights;
  • Child abandonment; and
  • Special facts and circumstances.

Grandparents able to demonstrate to the courts their grandchild’s best interests would not be served by remaining in the custody of the parents places them on equal footing with the parents in the courts. However, this is only the first step. To gain custody of their grandchildren, grandparents must then prove the child would be best in their custody.

Virginia laws on child custody

Virginia codifies the standards for determining what are the best interests for children going through custody disputes. Courts will look at the law to ultimately determine who will be the best custodian of the child. Factors courts take into account in child custody disputes include:

  • The child’s age, mental and physical condition, and any developmental needs;
  • Age and physical and mental condition of the parties disputing custody;
  • The relationship between each party and the child;
  • The child’s needs; and
  • The two parties’ willingness to cooperate in the child’s upbringing and help maintain contact with each other.

Virginia grandparent custody rights attorneys

The compassionate and dedicated Virginia attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC can help you handle your child custody dispute in a dignified and civil manner. After all, what is really important in all of this is the wellbeing of your grandchildren. With years of experience, our attorneys will ardently advocate for your custody rights as a grandparent and help demonstrate to the courts you are most fit to raise your grandchild. For a consultation about your case, contact our office 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!