Centreville Child Custody Lawyer

Do you need help with a child custody matter in Centreville, VA? For many parents, child custody is the most fiercely fought issue in a Virginia divorce case. However, custody matters can also arise in paternity, parental fitness, and grandparent rights cases.

Our Centreville child custody lawyers at The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC have extensive experience. We are dedicated to protecting your parental rights and the best interests of your children. We’ll guide you through the challenging and emotional issues related to child custody.

If your parental rights are at stake or your children are at risk, you need an advocate in your corner. Contact our law firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced Centreville family law attorney. Give us a call at (703) 271-6519.

How The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC Can Help You With a Child Custody Case in Centreville, VA

How The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC Can Help You With a Child Custody Case in Centreville, VA

Experience matters when you hire a Centreville child custody attorney. You want the best attorney in Centreville to advocate for fair custody terms.

At The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, our lawyers are seasoned negotiators who use mediation and negotiation to successfully resolve child custody disputes.

Attorney Afsana Chowdhury has a perfect 10 rating with Avvo, a testament to her dedication to her clients. She is a top-rated family law attorney with national recognition from prestigious legal organizations, including the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys and The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys.

When you hire our child custody lawyers in Centreville, Virginia, you can expect us to:

  • Discuss your concerns and goals regarding child custody
  • Explain how Virginia laws impact your case
  • Develop a legal strategy to obtain the outcome you desire
  • Work with leading expert witnesses as necessary
  • Diligently protect your parental rights and your child’s best interest
  • Investigate allegations of parental alienation, domestic violence, abuse, and other wrongdoing
  • Negotiate a parenting plan that meets your and your child’s needs

If you have questions about child custody in Virginia, contact our office to speak with one of our Centreville family lawyers. Your consultation is confidential.

What Types of Child Custody Do Courts Award in Virginia?

Virginia family laws grant two types of custody: legal and physical.

Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions for a child. A parent with legal custody can make decisions for the child regarding their medical treatment, education, extracurricular activities, friends and acquaintances, and religious upbringing.

A parent with sole legal custody can make those decisions without consulting the other parent. Joint legal custody allows both parents to participate in decision-making for their children.

Physical Custody in Virginia

Physical custody refers to which parent cares for the child’s physical needs and care. A parent with physical custody makes decisions about the child’s day-to-day activities and care. They ensure the child has clothing, food, shelter, and other essentials.

Typically, a child lives with one parent most of the time for continuity and stability. That parent is the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights.

What Is a Parenting Plan in a Centreville Child Custody Case?

Judges recognize the need for a child to maintain a close relationship with both parents unless one is unfit. Therefore, they encourage parties to develop a parenting plan that allows the child to spend ample time with each parent.

A parenting plan is a child custody agreement and visitation schedule. It outlines how the parents will divide parenting responsibilities, including caring for a child’s daily needs, where the child will live, and how they will make decisions for their children.

When parents disagree about custody arrangements, the court decides for them. Virginia child custody laws require judges to give primary consideration to the child’s best interests in custody cases.

Virginia Code §20-124.3 states that judges shall consider the following factors to determine the best interests of the child:

  • The child’s age
  • The roles the parents played in the upbringing and care of the child in the past
  • A child’s physical and mental condition
  • The child’s needs, including their relationships with extended family members, siblings, and friends
  • The ability of a parent to cooperate with the other parent to resolve disputes
  • The existing relationship between the parents and the child
  • A parent’s willingness to actively support the child’s relationship with their other parent, including ongoing contact with the parent
  • A history of domestic violence, sexual abuse, neglect, or child abuse
  • The willingness and ability of a parent to continue a close relationship with their child
  • A child’s reasonable preference for custody
  • Any factor relevant to determining the best interests of a child in a custody matter

It is important to remember that family court judges retain jurisdiction over a child even if the parents agree on custody terms. When parents submit a proposed parenting plan and visitation schedule, the judge reviews it to ensure it is in the child’s best interest.

What Is a Guardian Ad Litem in a Centreville Child Custody Matter?

The court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in a custody case. The GAL is an attorney appointed to represent the child’s interests. Since children cannot represent themselves in court or intervene in the case, the GAL speaks on their behalf.

Judges do not have the time or resources to investigate every custody matter before them. They must base their decisions on the evidence presented in court.

However, a GAL investigates the case. They interview the parents and the child. They review records and interview other parties who may have relevant information. Their job is to protect the child’s interests and welfare.

When dealing with a Guardian ad Litem in a child custody case, keep the following things in mind:

  • Avoid becoming defensive when the GAL interviews you or requests information/documentation
  • Never lie to the GAL or exaggerate matters
  • Do not coach your child in what to say when the GAL talks to them
  • Avoid becoming confrontational when interacting with the GAL
  • Attend all scheduled meetings with the GAL and be cooperative
  • Allow the GAL access to your home and information
  • Be respectful of the GAL’s time and their role in the custody case

The Guardian ad Litem submits a report with their findings to the court. The report also includes the GAL’s recommendations for custody. The judge reviews the report and decides what weight to give the GAL’s findings and recommendations. The judge has the final say regarding child custody.

Can I Modify a Child Custody Order in Centreville, VA?

Life events and circumstances may result in the need to modify a child custody order. The circumstances may be directly related to the child or the parents.

For a judge to modify custody, there must be good cause. The parent seeking a judgment modification has the burden of proving that the custody change is in the child’s best interests and that the circumstances justify modifying custody.

Circumstances that might qualify as substantial enough to justify changing custody terms include:

  • A child develops special needs or a change in medical or educational needs
  • A parent has to relocate for their job
  • A parent develops a substance or alcohol addiction
  • Substantial changes in a parent’s financial situation
  • Changes in a parent’s life, such as marriage, birth of another child, or divorce
  • A change in the parent’s mental or physical health
  • A change in a parent’s work schedule or employment that impacts custody arrangements

Changes that negatively impact a child’s well-being or safety generally justify modification of custody. Parents can submit a proposed order to the court if they agree to change the custody arrangements. However, the judge has the final say after reviewing the matter to determine if the proposed change is in the child’s best interest.

How Can I Win Custody of My Child in Centreville, VA?

Hiring an experienced child custody attorney in Centreville is the first step to improving your chances of winning custody. An attorney will explain your legal options for obtaining custody and guide you through the process to help you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your case.

Your attorney will advise you about what to do and not to do during a child custody battle. 

Things to keep in mind include:

  • Attend all court hearings
  • Cooperate with the Guardian ad Litem
  • Do not discuss the divorce or custody with or in front of your children
  • Abide by all court orders
  • Remain active in your child’s life (i.e., attend events and functions, exercise all visitation rights, communicate regularly with your child, attend doctors, school, and other appointments, etc.)
  • Demonstrate your willingness to facilitate a relationship between your child and their other parent

Tell your attorney all the details and facts about your life. Being honest with your attorney is one of the best ways to protect your rights.

Your attorney cannot represent you effectively if they do not know all matters relevant to the custody case. If you are unsure whether something is important, tell your attorney.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Centreville Child Custody Lawyer

We understand what is at stake when we handle child custody cases. Our legal team at The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC cares about you and your children. We are here to help you when you need a compassionate, skilled legal advocate. Call us today to schedule a consultation with a Centreville child custody attorney.