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How might my immigration status affect child custody?

If a non-citizen living in Northern Virginia suddenly finds themselves facing a custody proceeding, they may worry that the other parent or the court may use their immigration status against them.

The good news is that immigration is not a factor Virginia courts consider when deciding custody or parenting time. This is true even if a person does not have legal authorization to be in the United States.

A person’s immigration status simply does not have a bearing on the best interest of a child, which is always a Virginia court’s main concern. Furthermore, a person’s right to have a relationship with their child should not get set aside because of that person’s citizenship or immigration status.

A person’s immigration status can indirectly affect their custody rights

However, indirectly, a person’s immigration status can affect custody rights and parenting time.

To give an obvious example, a parent who is facing deportation may have a difficult time convincing a court to give them custody.

For example, if they received custody, there is a chance that the family will be in a difficult situation. The custodial parent may later get forced to leave the country, but the other parent has both the desire and ability to remain in the United States.

Virginia’s courts legally must consider several factors when they make decisions about custody and visitation. Although immigration status is not one of these factors, it can play in to how a court does make its final decision in different ways.

The bottom line is that someone who is facing a custody and parenting time case and is not a citizen should make sure that they understand their legal rights. They may need to know what options are available to them for preserving their relationship with their children.

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