Child Custody And Visitation

Fairfax Child Custody Lawyer

Experienced Fairfax Child Custody Attorneys Serving Virginia Families

Child custody & visitation are hotly debated topics during a divorce. Every parent cares about and loves his or her children. Parents want to have an active and meaningful role in their children’s lives.

In the midst of a divorce or separation, it often becomes very easy for one or both parents to lose sight of those basic truths – and of the best interests of their children as well.

Serving clients in Fairfax County, VA, and throughout the surrounding counties and cities of Northern Virginia since 1981, Wexell Milman’s experience and focus on family law matters can help you minimize the harmful effects of separation and divorce by keeping you focused on achieving your objectives as they relate to your minor child or children.

To speak with our experienced Fairfax child custody attorney, give us a call at (703) 454-5448 or contact us online today.

How Is Child Custody Decided in Virginia?

Virginia’s “Best Interest of the Child” statute is found at Section 20-124.3 of the Code of Virginia. In all child custody or visitation disputes, the Court must decide what is in the best interests of the child based upon consideration of these factors:

  • The age and physical and mental condition of the child
  • The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
  • The relationship existing between each parent and each child
  • The needs of the child
  • The role which each parent has played in the upbringing and care of the child, and the role each will play in the future
  • The likelihood of each parent actively supporting the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent and of cooperating in matters affecting the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference
  • Any family history of domestic violence or abuse
  • Other factors as the court deems necessary and proper

Does It Matter Who Files for Custody First in Virginia?

Virginia law does not give the first person to file for custody a legal advantage. The first person to file does become the plaintiff or petitioner. However, it's better to think about the facts of the case before filing rather than any advantage or disadvantage you might imagine from filing first.

When children are involved, families are best served when the parents are able to resolve issues and avoid a courtroom battle. The child custody lawyers at Wexell Milman in Fairfax County are well versed in the various custodial arrangements available to parents, and we will discuss what works best for you.

At the same time, we recognize that there are situations in which an acceptable compromise on child custody & visitation issues cannot be reached through negotiation or mediation. In these custody cases, you can feel confident in the ability of our child custody attorneys to effectively protect your interests during a divorce trial. Our Fairfax child custody lawyers have experience in handling local and interstate child custody litigation, at both the trial and appellate level.

What Are the Types of Custody in Virginia?

In Virginia, there are two main types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. 

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding the child's upbringing. These decisions typically include matters related to education, healthcare, religion, and general welfare. There are two subtypes of legal custody:

  •  Sole Legal Custody: In this arrangement, one parent is granted the sole authority to make all major decisions concerning the child without consulting the other parent.
  • Joint Legal Custody: Joint legal custody is when both parents share the responsibility for making important decisions regarding the child's well-being. They must consult with each other and reach an agreement on matters affecting the child's life.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child resides and who has physical care and control of the child. Similar to legal custody, physical custody can be awarded as either:

  • Sole Physical Custody: This means that the child primarily resides with one parent, and the other parent may have visitation rights or scheduled parenting time.
  • Joint Physical Custody: In joint physical custody, the child spends significant time with both parents, and they share physical care and control of the child. The exact arrangement may vary, and it can be based on an equal time-sharing schedule or one that is more suitable for the child's best interests.

It's important to note that the court's primary consideration in determining child custody is the best interests of the child. The court takes into account various factors, such as the child's age, the parents' ability to provide for the child's needs, the child's relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or domestic violence. The specific custody arrangement will depend on the circumstances of each case and what the court deems most appropriate for the child's well-being.

Creating a Co-Parenting Plan

When it comes to child custody cases, it is important to prioritize the well-being of the children involved. One way to ensure a smooth transition and healthy co-parenting relationship is to create a comprehensive co-parenting plan. Our experienced Fairfax child custody attorneys can help you draft a detailed plan that outlines each parent's responsibilities, visitation schedules, communication guidelines, and decision-making processes.

Benefits of a co-parenting plan include:

  • Clear expectations for both parents
  • Reduced conflict and misunderstandings
  • Promotion of stability and routine for the children
  • Flexibility to adjust as needed
  • Legal documentation for future reference

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Dealing with Child Custody Issues

When navigating the challenges of child custody, parents can sometimes make mistakes that may jeopardize their case or negatively impact their children. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Not Prioritizing the Child's Best Interests: It's crucial for parents to focus on what is best for their child rather than their personal grievances or desires. Emotional decisions can often overshadow what truly benefits the child.
  • Lack of Communication and Cooperation with the Other Parent: Failure to effectively communicate and cooperate with the other parent can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a breakdown in co-parenting arrangements.
  • Disparaging the Other Parent: Speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child can cause emotional harm and impact the child's relationship with both parents.
  • Ignoring Court Orders: Disregarding court-mandated custody arrangements or visitation schedules can lead to legal consequences and impact future court decisions.
  • Using the Child as a Bargaining Chip: Involving the child in disputes or using them to gain leverage in negotiations can be detrimental to their emotional well-being.
  • Not Keeping Reliable Records: Failing to document important interactions, communications, and incidents related to custody can hurt your case if evidence is required to support your claims.
  • Overlooking the Impact of Social Media: Posting negative comments or inappropriate content on social media can be used against you in court and affect custody outcomes.

How an Attorney Can Help You Avoid These Mistakes

Engaging with a qualified child custody attorney can help you navigate the complexities of custody issues and steer clear of common mistakes. An experienced attorney provides objective advice, focusing on the child's best interests and offering a balanced perspective during emotional times. They facilitate effective communication and cooperation between parents, guiding you in creating amicable co-parenting arrangements. Legal counsel ensures that court orders are understood and followed, averting legal repercussions. An attorney also assists in maintaining thorough records and advises on appropriate behavior, both in personal interactions and on social media. By leveraging their expertise, an attorney can improve the likelihood of a favorable custody arrangement that benefits both you and your child.


For answers to specific questions you have about child custody & visitation in Fairfax County – including temporary child custody orders (pendente lite orders), parenting plans, sole or joint legal custody, visitation rights, or the modification or enforcement of existing custody agreements or orders.  

Call Wexell Milman at (703) 454-5448 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to speak with our child custody lawyer in Fairfax, VA.

Book Your Consultation

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy

Call Wexell Milman Today

To schedule an initial consultation, call our law offices in Fairfax, Virginia, at (703) 454-5448 or complete and submit the form on the right.

Daytime, early evening, and Saturday morning consultations are available by appointment.

Major credit cards are accepted.