Jump to Navigation

Determining child custody in Virginia

While it's easy to see how a divorce can be a trying time for a splitting couple, it is important not to overlook the additional emotional toll a drawn-out divorce can take on the children of the marriage.

Tragically, children often get caught in the middle of contentious divorces as both parents vie for custody. Fortunately when courts in Virginia resolve custody disputes, their foremost concern is the well-being of the child involved.

Establishing Child Custody

Courts in Virginia are generally free to order either joint of sole custody of a child following a divorce, but ultimately the court is required under Virginia law to give "primary considerations" to what is in the best interests of the child when making custody determinations.

When evaluating what is in the best interests of the child, there are several factors enumerated in Virginia statutory law that a court shall consider. These include:

  • The physical and mental condition of the child, as well as his or her age - making sure to give consideration to the child's changing needs
  • The physical and mental condition of each parent, as well as his or her age
  • The needs of the child - making sure to consider the child's other important relationships, such as with friends and siblings
  • The expressed preference of the child, as long as it is reasonable and the court determines the child is of appropriate age and intelligence to express such a preference
  • The role of each parent in the raising of the child, and his or her expected role in the future
  • The existing relationship between each parent and the child
  • The propensity of each parent to help maintain the child's relationship with the other parent
  • The ability of each parent to maintain a relationship with the child and cooperate with each other to resolve issues impacting the child
  • History of physical or sexual abuse in the family

In addition, Virginia courts are free to consider all other factors it feels is necessary to make its decision.

Modifying Virginia child custody orders

After a child custody order is in place, it is quite possible that circumstances may change for either parent - thus necessitating a change in the child custody arrangement.

Courts in Virginia generally apply a two-pronged test when determining whether to modify a child custody decree: a) Has there been a change in circumstances, and b) is a change in custody in the best interests of the child?

Seek help if involved in child custody fight

As this article illustrates, the law surrounding child custody can get quite complex in Virginia - which can get even more complicated if parents are moving from state to state. Accordingly, if you are currently involved in a child custody dispute, or wish to modify a current child custody decree, it may be advisable to speak with an experienced family law attorney in order to learn what your rights and options may be given your circumstances.

contact our firm Honors & Awards We Proudly Congratulate...
  • SCOTT SUROVELL for being named one of the TOP LAWYERS 2012 for DUI/DWI and Personal Injury by Northern Virginia Magazine.
  • DOROTHY M. ISAACS for being named as one of the Influential Woman of Virginia 2012 by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
  • DOROTHY M. ISAACS for being named one of the Top 50 Women Virginia Super Lawyers for 2012.
  • ROBERT J. SUROVELL for being named in Best Lawyers in America this year for Personal Injury representation and for the 25th time in Family Law representation.
  • DOROTHY M. ISAACS for being named in Best Lawyers in America for the 5th time in Family Law representation.
honors &awards
  • Super Lawyers
  • AV LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case and do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer.
  • $12,000,000 Judgment relating to fraudulent investment scheme.
  • $4,800,000 Fairfax County Jury verdict against fireworks company for negligent production of commercial fireworks display resulting in catastrophic injuries.
  • $3,600,000 Fairfax County jury verdict in favor of firefighter who suffered permanent disabling injuries.
  • $3,500,000 Settlement of head-on collision resulting in severe orthopedic injuries and brain injuries to Ph.D candidate.
  • $2,000,000 Value of rescission awarded to purchaser due to luxury developer's violation of Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act.
  • $1,150,000 Settlement of case involving brain injury to passenger riding in commuter van on I-395.
  • $1,100,000 Judgment awarded against husband who obtained multiple mortgages on joint property without wife's consent.
  • $1,150,000 Settlement of case involving amputation of arm following negligence.
  • $980,000 Settlement of case involving brain injury to 13 year-old child.
  • $950,000 Settlement of case involving misdiagnosis of child abuse instead of osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease).
  • $834,000 Jury verdict against a notorious foreclosure rescue scammer for violations of Virginia Consumer Protection Act, Virginia Credit Counseling Act,  and fraud.
  • $750,000 Back injury from car accident.
  • $700,000 Jury verdict for fraud arising from sale of securities in bogus Montana mining venture.
  • $650,000 Settlement of medical malpractice matter.
  • $480,000 Settlement of wrongful death case involving health care neglect in prison.
  • $454,000 Class action settlement against law firm for violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act- total settlement amount in excess of $454,000 (pending final approval)
  • $450,000 Settlement of death of child who drowned in pool.
  • $330,000 Judgment awarded to tenant for inventory damage from defects in shopping mall roof.  Affirmed by Supreme Court of Virginia.
  • $300,000 Judgment awarded to daughter whose mother was killed by step-father who attempted to seek his deceased wife's life insurance proceeds.
  • $300,000 Car accident involving collision with delivery truck and compound arm fracture.
  • $290,000 Car accident involving injury to passenger's face.
  • $175,000 Settlement for property damage and business losses for damage to printing press during moving.
  • $175,000 Back injuries to driver struck by drunk driver.
  • $135,000 Settlement for failure to supervise bookkeeper, negligent processing of checks by bank, and embezzlement.
  • $82,000 SIPL Defense verdict that ultimately led to award of $82,000 sanctions against Plaintiff.
  • Defense Verdict SIPL Defense verdict in car-tanker truck collision seeking over $1,000,000
  • Class action settlement against First Tennessee Bank for violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act
verdicts &settlements We Can Help contact our firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close
press room news archive Articles Community Activities
contact us. office location

Surovell Isaacs Petersen & Levy PLC

4010 University Drive
Second Floor
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703-648-8279
Fax: 703-591-9285
Fax: 703-591-2149

Map and Directions