VirginiaChild Visitation Laws
Virginia Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
What is child visitation?In the context of a child custody case, visitation is defined as the rights for a non-custodial parent to see their child, or as temporary custody that's been granted for a period of time to an otherwise non-custodial parent or relative.
In general, courts in Virginia assume that it is beneficial for both biological parents of a child to have shared custody or visitation, unless it is shown to be against the child's best interests. A biological parent who is denied custody may be awarded visitation rights to provide for a relationship between the parent and child.
Visitation by grandparents, family members, or other third-parties is less clear cut in Virginia, and nationwide. While there are state guidelines regarding third-party visitation in certain situations, these laws are frequently challenged.
Above all else, courts in Virginia strive to make custody and visitation decisions that are "in the best interests of the child". The court handling each individual visitation case has significant flexibility in determining what arrangement is in the child's best interests. You can read about Virginia's visitation guildelines on this page.
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How are Visitation Rights Requested?Virginia law states that a biological parent of a minor child may request visitation rights as part of an open divorce, parentage or custody case or may file a petition for visitation in none of these circumstances apply.
The court will decide a request for visitation based on whether granting a parent visitation would be in the "best interests of the child."
What is considered in a child's "best interests" are outlined under the custody and visitation statute which indicate the following factors are relevant to this type of decision:
- The parent's’ and child’s wishes as to custody
- The interaction and relationship between the child and both parents, any siblings, and any other person who significantly affects the child's best interests
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
Conditions for grandparent visitation rights with their grandchild include consideration of whether a parent is deceased, incompetent, or if the child has been abandoned by his or her parents. Any award of grandparent visitation must be in the best interests of the child.
In the state of Virginia, there are a number of laws regarding child visitation regarding visitation for third-parties other than the biological parents of the child. While state laws regarding third-party visitation have been frequently been challenged in courts, they are a good indication of Virginia's positions regarding non-parental visitation rights.
Visitation Rights Of Grandparents In Virginia:
Virginia has special statutes regarding the child visitiation rights of grandparents under different circumstances. Under state law, the grandparents of children may obtain visitation while the parents are alive, regardless of the parent's marital status.
Regardless of state presumptions regarding grandparent's visitation rights under specific circumstances, a Virginia court may allow or prevent visitation rights in any situation based on the best interests of the child.
Visitation Rights Of Other Parties In Virginia:
Are step-parents granted visitation rights in the state of Virginia?
Generally it is an uphill battle for step-parents seeking visitation rights for a step-child, especially if the biological parents of the child are alive and are opposed to the visitation.
Under Virginia law, legal provisions do exist to grant child visitation rights to step-parents under certain circumstances, so visitation can be readily applied for. In all cases, third-party visitation rights are more likely to be granted by the court if they are deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
Can other interested parties or relatives be granted visitation rights to a child in Virginia?
Under state of Virginia law, it is not generally possible for any other interested party other than those specified to be granted child visitation rights. In rare cases this may be overruled by the court.
Can parents be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or adoption in Virginia?
In the state of Virginia it may not be possible to be granted visitation rights after losing parental rights or giving up a child for adoption. This is the case with both biological parents and previous guardians.