Child Custody, Visitation and Support FAQs

Can visitation be withheld because support is not being paid?

No. Visitation and support are separate issues. You cannot deny visitation because support is not being paid.

If you do not pay support when it is due, you can be held in contempt of court and punished by a fine or imprisonment.

What factors does a court consider when making a custody decision?

In cases related to children, the court follows the “Best Interest of the Child” standard when making a decision. There are several factors that go into determining what exactly the best interest is, which can be found in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3.

What age does a child have to be to have an opinion on where they get to live?

A child will be able to voice their opinion on where they would prefer to live if the court decides that the child is mature and capable enough to understand the situation. Generally, children 12 and older are reasonably intelligent enough and have the life experience to be able to express their preference. However, sometimes the judge will make exceptions, and consider the opinion of a younger child if they determine the child is able to understand, is reasonably intelligent enough, and has the experience to have their preference considered. Likewise, an older but immature child may not be taken as seriously.

A child’s preference is only one factor that the court will consider, however. There are various other factors that the court weighs in determining what is best for the child. The factors can be found in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3.

What happens with support if the other party is unemployed or underemployed?

In some situations where a party is unemployed or underemployed, the court can often consider the parent’s earning potential rather than their actual income, and impute income to them. See our Blog post about it HERE.