Virginia Paternity and Visitation Lawyer

In a custody agreement, one parent will be labeled the custodial parent and the other the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is the one the child predominately lives with. A distinguished family attorney can help you find the most appropriate agreement for your family. A Virginia paternity and visitation lawyer can help manage negotiations on your behalf.

The non-custodial parent has the right to visitation and usually has an obligation to pay child support. Most people believe that their children are the most important parts of their lives. When you do not have custody, visitation is cherished and extremely important.

Common Custody Issues

Custody and visitation issues can come up when a married couple decides to divorce, when a non-marital relationship with children falls apart or when two people who were not in a relationship have a child. Paternity may be vital to both parents going forward. When there was no relationship when the child was conceived it is natural to have uncertainties about paternity from either parent. By speaking with a Virginia paternity and visitation lawyer parents can understand how to determine paternity and visitation with their possible child.

Establishing Paternity

There are a few different ways that paternity is established in Virginia. There is a marital presumption that if a child was conceived during a marriage that the husband is the presumed father. However, this presumption can be rebutted by any party. Therefore, if the husband does not believe he is the father of a child he can challenge this presumption in court through DNA testing.

Both parents may voluntarily decide to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This may be done right after the birth of the child at the hospital. It can be done later by filling out the form which can be found at child support offices, the local department of social services, the Office of Vital Records in Richmond or the local health department clinics. Parents should speak with a Virginia paternity and visitation lawyer for any questions regarding this process.

What is Acknowledgement of Paternity?

If the parents are not married then there are two separate options to establish paternity, either through genetic testing or by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity.

With genetic testing, the parents can have an outside provider do the test but to hold up in court it will have to be sworn to by an expert, be signed and submitted to the court within 15 days of the hearing.

It may be easier to simply have the test ordered through the court because then there will be no additional requirements except for having the test done. The Department of Child Support Enforcement may bring a paternity case against an alleged father.

Visitation Rights for Non-Custodial Parents

The parent with whom the child does not mainly live with still has rights to see their child through visitation arrangements. For visitation, the court will look at the same factors it considers when deciding custody. These factors will determine what type of custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

  • Any history of family abuse
  • If a parent has a history of withholding visitation and not working with the other parent
  • The relationship the parent has had with the child and their ability to meet the needs of the child
  • The needs of the child including important relationships such as siblings or step-parents
  • Age, mental and physical condition of the parent
  • Age, mental and physical condition of the child while taking into consideration the child’s changing needs
  • The role each parent has had in raising the child
  • The ability and willingness of the parent to keep a close relationship with the child and their ability to resolve custody issues
  • Any factor the court considers to be important
  • The child’s preference if the child is old enough to have their opinion heard

Talk to an Attorney

Depending on the situation you are in, the first step you may need to take is establishing paternity over the child. Then once that has been done, you may want to fight for your rights to visitation. Whenever children are involved, speaking to a Virginia paternity and visitation lawyer can be helpful. Let an attorney help you understand what rights you have to your child.