The Importance of Family Ties When Litigating a Child Custody Case
As is the case in most jurisdictions, when litigating a child custody dispute, the Fairfax County family court gives a great deal of consideration to the family support networks of the respective parents. It’s widely recognized that when parents raise children, they often rely on non-parental family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, ec.) to assist in the day-to-day care of those children. The Virginia family courts acknowledge the importance of an aunt who can pick up a child at school if the mother has to work late, or a grandparent who can watch a child when a father is out of town on a business trip.
Because of the courts’ recognition of the importance of a familial network, family law attorneys will attempt to demonstrate the reliability of their clients’ families when arguing for custody. The attorney might try to emphasize the fact that the family is of significant size, and that the members live geographically close to the parent to whom they are related. Conversely, if a parent does not have many family members in close proximity to them, it could be considered a significant weakness.
Consider this example: A Fairfax, VA mother and father are fighting for custody of their son. She lives in Arlington in the same neighborhood as her mother and father. One of her siblings works at the school that the child attends and the other sibling is a small business owner in Reston. On the other hand, the father is employed at the Austrian embassy in D.C., but only has family in Vienna. With all other things being equal, it would be apparent to the Fairfax judge that the mother is better equipped to assume primary custody of the child.
A strong family network is not a guarantee that the courts will rule in the mother’s favor. For instance, if she has shown a pattern of irresponsible behavior (i.e. substance abuse, arrests), her attorney may have a difficult time demonstrating that her superior family network trumps these other issues.
Virginia Divorce and Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker
Do you need a divorce and family law attorney? Do you have questions about the importance of family ties when litigating a child custody case in Virginia? We invite you to contact us today at (703) 596-1005. We're always just a phone call away.