Archive for January, 2016

Posting Online

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

I read a lot of legal question and answer sites and it always amazes me that people will put very detailed and personal information in an online forum, especially about criminal activity.

DO NOT DO THIS!

Online legal forums, and other online places, are open to the public.  Yes, this means that you might get someone to answer your question for free, but you are more likely to have the details of your particular situation seen by everyone including the police and opposing counsel.

As a lawyer, I regularly look for online posts that refer to my clients or their opponents.  And, yes, I can and do use this information for the benefit of my client.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Do Dads ever get custody?

Friday, January 15th, 2016

The short answer is ‘yes’, Dads often get legal and/or physical custody of their children!

In Virginia, the courts use what is called a ‘best interest of the child’ standard when deciding child custody matters.  The factors are found in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3 and these are the things that any Judge, either in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) District Court or the Circuit Court must consider before making a child custody decision.

If the child is very young, and the mother is breast feeding the child, that would make it much more difficult for a father to get custody at that time, but other than that, there is no presumption that a mother is the preferred parent.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

When can I file for custody of my baby?

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

I’ve had two different people come  into my office in the past month who want to establish custody for their unborn children.  The problem is that custody cannot be established until the child is born and becomes an independent person.

You can do a lot to get ready.  You will need the name, physical and mailing address, and phone number of the other parent so that they can be properly and legally served with any custody papers after the birth of your child.

In most jurisdictions in Virginia, the initial custody determination filing requires a small filing fee (I think it was $25 the last time I checked locally).  Also, check with your Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk’s office.  In some areas, the petition is filed in the clerk’s office and in other areas the initial petition is prepared in a Court Services office.  Some of the Court Services offices are in the courthouse and sometimes they are in a different building.

The timeframe for the initial appearance in court will depend on the jurisdiction and the court calendar, but count on it being at least a month before the initial hearing.  Then, if mom and dad are in agreement about custody, the court can usually enter an order that day.  If the matter is contested, you will be scheduled for a contested hearing and that may be 1-3 months out depending again on the court’s calendar.

Until the child is born, the most important thing you can do is to take good care of yourself and make sure that the child has every opportunity to be born safe and healthy.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Terminating Parental Rights

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

I’ve had  a few people contact me recently because they either want to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, or they want to terminate the parental rights of an absent father.  Trust me, I’m not picking on fathers but I’ve had the same question 3 times in the past 2 weeks and they all just happened to concern absent fathers.

First of all, the Courts in Virginia will not let anyone voluntarily relinquish parental rights.  If both parents agree that the father won’t be involved in the child’s life, and the mother is able to properly provide for the child, there is no reason to have the court involvement at all.  Just do it.  Most people agree that it is better for a child to have both parents involved in their life, but it is still a personal decision.

However, if the parents think that they can get rid of a father who can not afford to pay child support and then apply for TANF to support the child, that won’t happen.  And while the Courts themselves can terminate parental rights when a parent has been proven to be unfit, you can’t request that the Courts do so just because a parent has not been involved in the child’s life, and/or is unable to provide financial support.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.