This post is a second dose of common inquiries we hear about Virginia child custody and visitation law.
ARE MOTHERS FAVORED BY VIRGINIA COURTS IN DETERMINING CHILD CUSTODY?
Answer: No. Years ago, Virginia followed the “tender years doctrine,” where there is a presumption that children should reside primarily with their mother. This is no longer the case. Instead, Virginia courts determine custody based on the “best interests of the child.” As an aside, we Kaleslaw lawyers tend to prefer the term “parenting” to “custody and visitation.” “Custody” seems more appropriate for property, and you “visit” with your friends and relatives, not your kids. But, who’s asking us, right? 🙂
DO GRANDPARENTS HAVE CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION RIGHTS IN VIRGINIA?
Answer: Yes. Grandparents are considered “persons of legitimate interest” under Virginia law and have “standing” to request custody of or visitation with their grandchildren. However, parents rights tend to trump that of grandparents, so grandparents must show a “compelling interest” to be awarded custody or visitation over a parent’s objection.
DO STEPPARENTS HAVE CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION RIGHTS IN VIRGINIA?
Answer: Yes. Just like grandparents, stepparents are considered “persons of legitimate interest” under Virginia law, and just like with grandparents, stepparents face a significant challenge when seeking custody and/or visitation in Virginia.