Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC continues to be fully available to serve the needs of both our existing clients as well as new clients for their family law matters. Although we are primarily working remotely due to the impact of COVID-19, we remain fully operational and accessible to meet with clients via video and telephone conferencing during this time period. Read More

Would sole child custody be best for your kids?

As a parent, you are the ultimate authority on what’s best for your children. Their well-being is always a top priority. When you decided to file for divorce in a Virginia court, you no doubt already started forming a plan in your mind regarding terms for a child custody agreement. If the relationship between you and your ex is contentious, you might have your work cut out to achieve a fair settlement.

Perhaps you think it’s best to request sole physical and legal custody of your children. If so, then you’ll have the task of convincing the court of the same. The judge overseeing your case has the discretion to grant your request or deny it. This is why, if you are seeking sole custody, you must have a legitimate reason for doing so and present testimony and evidence that supports your position and convinces the court that your request is in the best interest of your child.

What are legitimate reasons for requesting sole custody?

No two child custody cases are exactly the same. An important or prominent issue in your case may be largely irrelevant to another set of parents who are litigating a similar case. If you want the court to grant you sole physical and legal custody, one or more of the reasons included in the following list might apply to your situation:

  • If you have evidence that the other parent has been abusive toward your children, it is definitely something to bring to the court’s attention.
  • Parental substance abuse is another common issue in cases where one parent is seeking sole physical and legal custody of his or her children.
  • The court also takes the mental health of both parents into consideration when making custody decisions.
  • If the other parent is moving to another country, it is understandable that you want your children to stay in this country with you.

Physical custody refers to where your children reside after you finalize your divorce. Legal custody, on the other hand, pertains to the authority to make decisions regarding your children’s health, faith, education and other important issues.

Virginia law lacks any legal presumption of a set physical custodial schedule.  In addition, the law also does not presume that either joint legal or sole legal custody should be awarded.  Instead, the burden is on the parent to prove to a judge that his or her proposal is in the best interest of the children.  If you present a legitimate cause for seeking sole custody and support your request with relevant testimony and evidence that shows your children’s interests would be better served if you are their sole custodian, the judge may grant your request. This type of litigation can be emotionally stressful, which is why many parents seeking sole custody act alongside experienced legal representation in court.

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