With some exceptions, the standard is what is in the child's best interest. To determine what is in the child's best interest, the Court considers the factors in VA Code Sec 20-124.3.
Rarely will I recommend that you go to court for child custody without legal representation. Even when the facts are in your favor, if you cannot present those facts to the court, you may lose; in some cases, those facts are time sensitive and, if not brought up at that time, may never be considered by a court. However, if all parties involved have an agreement, you may not need an attorney.
You should seek a child custody order whenever the custody of the child may be at issue. For example, you are separating from your spouse and are concerned that your spouse wishes to move to another state with your child.
No. This is a common myth. One of the factors in 20-124.3 that the Court must consider is who the primary caretaker of the child is, regardless of whether that's the mother or the father.
I am sensitive to the nuances of child custody disputes, as well as the local rules. I am zealous in my representation and well-versed on the law in this area. I also know that sometimes you have to fight. Sometimes you have to lose a battle to draw a line in the sand that says, "this is as far as I'll go." You establish precedence that, a lot of times, can be in and out of Court for the next 17 years or so. You need an attorney that can go the distance on that. Stay updated on that. Specific law office management software I provide my clients allows them to log in, even if no current case is pending, but they wish to maintain their journal. It streamlines the process and keeps the Attorney up-to-date, as future conflicts or changes in circumstances necessitate bringing the case back into Court.