Virginia child custody modificationIf you suddenly find yourself in a situation where your circumstances demand a child custody modification, you're not alone. Life is unpredictable—and the arrangements that seemed fine when your divorce was finalized may no longer work for your family’s current needs.

Virginia courts value stability and consistency in a child's life. If you want to obtain a custody modification, you must demonstrate how the proposed change will positively impact your child's well-being despite disrupting their routine. This process can be fraught with legal complexities and emotional challenges, but Hampton Roads family law attorney Lu Aloupas offers the guidance you need to script a brighter future for you and your family.

Reasons for Child Custody Modification in Virginia

If you are seeking a modification in your child custody agreement, you must have a reason for the change that has occurred since the date of your last court order regarding custody and parenting time. If the matter was previously litigated or known but not raised at trial, it wouldn't qualify as the basis for a modification.

Under Virginia law, the parent seeking a custody modification bears the burden of proving that the proposed change is necessary and in the child's best interest.

Child support payments are considered a separate issue from child custody, so the non-custodial parent's failure to pay the required support will not affect physical custody and parenting time. However, relocation, parental work schedule changes, and safety concerns related to the child's living conditions are valid reasons to seek a custody or parenting time schedule change.

Relocation. If one parent needs to move due to work, family, or other reasons, it can impact the existing custody arrangement, requiring modifications to ensure the child's well-being.

Change in parental work schedules. A significant change in a parent's work schedule can affect their ability to fulfill their custodial responsibilities, making it necessary to change custody and parenting time schedules.

Abuse, neglect, or unfavorable changes in the child's living conditions. If the child's current living conditions are no longer suitable or safe, a custody modification may be sought to protect their well-being. This includes cases where domestic violence is a factor.

The Child Custody Modification Process

Modifying child custody orders in Virginia is a lengthy process. First, the parent seeking the custody modification must file a petition with the court that outlines the reasons for the requested change. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court handles most cases. However, the Circuit Court can handle custody and support issues for parents with a divorce case.

The petitioning parent must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances that warrants the modification. The court's primary consideration in custody modifications is the child's best interest, as outlined in Virginia Code § 20-124.3. Therefore, working with a family law lawyer to build a strong case supported by relevant evidence is crucial.

In some cases, mediation may be required to resolve disputes and reach an agreement between the parents. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) used to resolve conflicts and disputes between parties in a cooperative and non-adversarial manner.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present their arguments. Please note that members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard, or any other reserve component are entitled to an expedited petition on the docket of the court under Virginia Code § 20-108.

The existing custody arrangement remains legally binding until the court issues a new custody order. You must comply with the current order even while seeking a modification.

What to Expect When You Work With Our Hampton Roads Family Law Attorney

Lu Aloupas, the founder of Aloupas Law, is an indispensable ally throughout the child custody modification process. When you work with our law firm to resolve your custody issues, you can expect the following:

Legal expertise. As an experienced attorney, Lu understands Virginia's family law system and can navigate its complexities efficiently.

Evidence gathering. Lu will help collect pertinent evidence to support your case, ensuring a compelling argument for modifying the child custody order.

Negotiation skills. In cases where mediation is required, Lu can negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair resolution with your child's other parent.

Court representation. Lu will protect your rights and present a persuasive case if your case goes to court.