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.