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Family Law FAQ

Questions about Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Family Law?

Many of our clients have the same questions and concerns about family law, including questions about divorce, spousal support, property division, and more. Our Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. divorce family lawyers created a list of some of the most frequently asked questions below. While this is a great place to get basic information, if you have more questions, please do not hesitate to call our law office now.

Q: What is child custody?

A: Custody is a legal determination of how the parties care and make decisions for minor children. There are two types of custody: Legal and Physical. Legal custody determines which parent(s) will participate in making major decisions affecting the children, such as decisions about the children’s education, healthcare and well-being. Physical custody involves who will care for the children on a day-to-day basis.

Q: How will the court determine which parent gets physical custody or visitation?

A: The Court’s primary concern is the best interest of the child in determining custody and setting a visitation schedule. To determine child custody and visitation, the court considers several factors, including:

  • The child's age
  • The child's gender
  • The child's physical and mental health
  • The parents’ physical and mental health
  • The parents’ role in the child’s upbringing
  • The special needs of the child
  • The parent's ability to provide the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
  • The willingness of the parent to encourage a healthy, on-going relationship between the child and the other parent
  • If the child is above a certain age, the child's preference
  • Any history of abuse
  • And more

Although it used to be the case, any preference for the mother as the primary custodian is barred from a determination of child custody and visitation.

Q: How is child support calculated?

A: Child support is calculated based upon guidelines that are established by the state. Generally, child support guidelines take into account the incomes of the parties, the number of days each party has the child, and other expenses related to the child, such as health care and daycare costs. Although each state has set guidelines, the Court may deviate from the guidelines at its discretion.

Q: Can child support be modified?

A: Yes. In order to modify child support, there must be a material change in circumstances, such as a parties’ income substantially increases or decreases involuntarily. Note that a voluntary loss of employment or demotion cannot form the basis of a modification of child support. The party seeking the modification cannot intentionally cause a decrease in income in order to minimize his or her child support obligation. Additionally, it may be possible to impute income to a party based upon the earning capacity. The concept of imputing income should be discussed with a family law attorney.

Q: Can child custody and visitation be modified?

A: Yes. Child custody and visitation is always modifiable so that the child’s best interest is served. In order to modify child custody and visitation, there must be a material change in circumstances, and the change being sought must be in the best interest of child. You should discuss whether facts or changes in your case constitute a material change in circumstances with family law attorney.