Thank you for your patience.
By itself, a fear of not allowing access is not deemed important enough to cancel custody. There must be good reason for such behavior, and usually such behavior revolves around a parent's "fitness". Evidence of abuse, neglect, domestic violence
, drug use, alcohol abuse, criminal history/record/parole/probation, or moral turpitude are all factors that define "fitness".
Since your daughter did not fulfill any of the criteria, but the other parent did (evidence of drug use and criminal history), your daughter should have been deemed the superior parent. Because this did not happen either means that there was additional evidence that was not introduced (unlikely from your facts), or the judge made an incorrect interpretation of the law, most probably based on his possible associations.
This gives you a few options. First is to wait and attempt to appeal. That is problematic as it will be harder to change custody, especially if the other parent shows himself to be capable within that time line. Second is to file for an appeal, request a new judge to rehear the request, and pursue this further. Your attorney may balk at this simply because attorneys who contest judges become unpopular and less likely to win in the long-term (not defending, merely pointing out). Third and something that I suggest very strongly, is that you also file for an ethics complaint against the judge via the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission. Explain in the complaint the possible scenarios and ask for a formal investigation of the grounds. You can do this concurrently with the second option.
Here is the link as to how to file the complaint:
Hope that helps.
Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 9/1/2010 at 5:21 AM EST