Woodbridge Child Custody Lawyer

If you are involved in a custody dispute, it can be a difficult time in your life, because few things are more important to a parent than time spent with their child. Custody disputes can come up when you are either separating from the other parent or when the child is first born.

In either scenario, you should speak with a Woodbridge child custody lawyer to get advice on what rights you have. Even if you have a friendly relationship with the other parent, it would help to speak with a lawyer, because informal agreements do not always work out. Contact a compassionate and dedicated family law attorney who can work towards a positive outcome for you.

Custody Modification

Sometimes a situation can come up where a parent agrees to a certain custody arrangement, but circumstances change significantly, later on, so they want to change the custody agreement. That is known as a modification of a custody agreement, and usually, the judge will require that the parent requesting the change shows how the situation has changed and why the modification is necessary. Some common modification scenarios include a parent moving away, a change in the child’s environment, the child’s preference, or a recent health or psychological change for one parent.

How to File for Custody

To file for custody, a person will have to submit a custody or visitation form. Other forms they may have to include are an order to attend hearing and notice to the respondent, a notice of automatic orders, an affidavit concerning children, and an appearance form. Many of these forms may be complicated, and if someone wants to protect their rights as a parent, they should speak with a Woodbridge child custody lawyer.

If an individual is concerned about the welfare of their child and feel that the other parent is putting the child in immediate psychological or physical harm, they can file for emergency custody. The parent would be asking the court for an emergency ex parte order of custody, where they will get immediate custody of the child until the court can sort out the situation and find out if the child is in danger. If a person feels that their child is at imminent risk, it would be worthwhile to speak with a lawyer to best protect the child.

Establishing Paternity

Before you can reach a child custody agreement, you have to establish paternity. Paternity can be established through paternity testing, a marital presumption, or voluntary acknowledgment. If either parent is unsure about paternity, they can request that the court order a DNA test to establish paternity. When a couple is married and the child is conceived during the marriage, there is a presumption that the husband is the father of that child. Lastly, for unmarried couples, when the baby is born, a father can choose to voluntarily sign a form acknowledging paternity of the child.

Custody vs Visitation

Legally, there is no difference between a father or mother when it comes to rights to child custody. The court will usually establish one parent as the custodial parent and one as the noncustodial parent. The child will live mainly with the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent also has rights to their child, which are usually enforced through visitation. When parents cannot come to an agreement about custody or visitation, it is a good idea to speak to a Woodbridge child custody lawyer.

When creating a custody order, the court will use the legal standard known as the best interest of the child. This standard uses a number of factors that the court will take into account to decide who should be custodial parent and who should be the noncustodial parent. A few of the factors the court might look at include the age and needs of the child, the living situation of both parents, the physical and mental health of the parents, the child’s preference, and the interactions between the child and parents.

Speaking With a Lawyer

Furthermore, if you have an established visitation agreement and the other parent will not let you exercise your visitation, you have the right to ask the court to enforce the agreement. Again, in this situation, a Woodbridge child custody lawyer can be extremely helpful in making sure that the other parent does not violate your visitation rights.