What about Fido? Protective Orders and Pet Custody in Virginia.

As family law lawyers in Leesburg, Virginia, we are often asked questions about pet custody in Virginia.  We are also often in the position of seeking protective orders on behalf of our clients and defending our clients against malicious protective orders.  Some new changes in the law have created an area where protective orders and pet custody in Virginia merge. As we have stated previously regarding protective orders, they are a vital tool in protecting victims of violence and abuse or potential victims from threatened violence or abuse. Sometimes, however, protective orders are used as a negotiating tactic at the beginning stages of a divorce proceeding. Whether it is an emergency protective order, preliminary protective order, or permanent protective order, the issuance of one can dramatically affect one’s life. A party need only present testimony to a magistrate of an alleged incident in order to obtain an Emergency Protective Order.  This is an ex parte proceeding, which means that the accused does not have the right to appear.  These Emergency Protective Orders usually last up to 72 hours.  They are followed by a Preliminary Protective order, which is also an ex parte Order which lasts for about 2 weeks. At the end of that period, there will be a hearing (with all parties having the right to be present) for a Permanent Protective Order, which lasts for up to two years.  The Petitioner (the person requesting the protective order) may be granted certain relief through any Protective Order pursuant to Va. Code Ann. §16.1-253.1, such as: Right to exclusive use and possession of the home to the exclusion of the other party; Right to...
My Ex is Working on His or Her Visitation Day instead of Spending it With Our Kids

My Ex is Working on His or Her Visitation Day instead of Spending it With Our Kids

Many times I have clients come into my office with concerns over the lack of actual time their ex spends with the children during their scheduled time. Take, for example, a case where a Father has the children every other weekend and has a job that requires him to work from 9-5 most Saturdays. The children are often at home with a babysitter during the day when the Father is working. The Mother would like the children to be with her on these Saturdays. This situation brings up an interesting dynamic. Is spending some Saturdays with a babysitter instead of spending the time with their Mother in the children’s best interests? Would taking the time away from the Father and giving to the Mother be penalizing the Father for his chosen career as he tries to provide for his children and family? Like many questions in family law, the answer is not simple. Courts value children’s time with the non-custodial parent as a result of the fact that the he or she is not with the children the majority of the time. Consequently, the Mother’s burden is high in this example to convince a judge that the children should be with her rather than at the Father’s house while he is at work. What if the Father has the ability to come home for an hour at lunch time to spend with the children? That is a prime example of how a parent’s visitation time with his or her children is HIS or HER time. Leaving the children with a babysitter may not be an ideal scenario but the Father has a right to have the children at his house while he...