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IS A CHILD’S OPINION CONSIDERED IN CUSTODY CASES IN VIRGINIA?

There are many factors that affect a child’s opinion being considered in a custody case; let’s discuss further.

My child has stated that he wants to live with me. Will that help?
In some circumstances yes, but in others, no. If your child is under the age of fourteen (14), his opinion may not be considered even if he has expressed it without coercion. The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm are ready to discuss your family’s circumstances and fight for the best outcome for your child’s custody case.

At what age is my child’s opinion considered for custody?
In Virginia, the Courts will most often consider the opinion of a child who is fourteen (14) years old. However, if a child who is fourteen (14) years old or older is mentally impaired, has had a history of struggles with mental health conditions or other unique circumstances, their opinion may not be considered.
In some cases, usually involving unique circumstances, the opinion of a younger child who is mature and articulate may be considered.

How will my child’s opinion be communicated to the Court?
There are several ways that a child’s opinion could be presented in Court:

  • Open Court testimony. The child would sit on the witness stand and answer questions asked by each parent’s attorney, in the presence of both parents.
  • Judge’s Chambers. The child would go into the Judge’s Chambers to communicate their opinion to the Judge in private. This is often ideal because it prevents the child from having to deal with the anxiety that comes with testifying their true feelings in front of both of their parents in open court.
  • Video testimony or deposition. A child may verbalize their opinion on video to be played in court, or be deposed before Court, with the written transcript of the deposition being introduced in Court.
  • Written letter. A child may write their opinion in a letter to be submitted to the Court by a parent’s attorney as evidence.

Why should I use a lawyer in my custody case?
While some people do represent their own interests, referred to in the legal system as being a “pro se” party to a case, there is so much to know about custody cases that it is wise to have your interests represented to ensure that your case is argued as effectively as possible.
Custody cases can only be reopened if a significant change in circumstances occurs. This means that if you try representing yourself and do not receive a favorable outcome, you might not be able to immediately refile with a lawyer to have your case heard again.
Opening a custody case in Virginia is a big step and can cause anxiety for many parents. The Hopkins Law Firm is ready to help you with your custody case. The experienced attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm will aggressively defend your position and make the process less overwhelming for you. Please contact us today at 571-248-2210 or [email protected] to discuss your unique legal needs.

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