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FamilyAttorney, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1472
Experience:  Owner, attorney in private practice, appellate attorney, GAL & former trial lawyer, licensed for 37 years
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I have a 4-year old daughter and was granted sole physical

Customer Question

I have a 4-year old daughter and was granted sole physical custody, and the father and I have joint legal custody. The father let's our child stay overnight at the houses of other people but, when I ask for the contact information for the person(s) whose care our child is in overnight, the father refuses to provide that information. I feel that he is denying me my parental right to know whose care the child is in overnight. What should I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In regards ***** ***** question, I'm trying to determine the course of action that I should take. I feel that I have a right to ask for the contact information of the person that will be caring for our child overnight. The father takes it as my being intrusive and bossy. Since I have sole physical custody, don't I have the final say as to where she can stay overnight?
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 1 year ago.

Hello. I’m a family lawyer and appellate attorney with 36 years’ experienc. I look forward to helping you today.

Please note:This is general information for educational purposes and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an attorney on this site. You are advised to retain your own attorney.

At the end of this discussion I'm going to ask you to please rate me as that's the only way I get credit for my time here today. Are you okay with rating me? Thank you!

What state are you in? It's not showing on this side. Thanks.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm fine with rating you. I'm in the state of Virginia.
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 1 year ago.

Okay thanks for that. Is there anything in your order that says who has final decision making? Is your order from VA?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, there is nothing in the custody order that explicitly states who has final decision making. I've always thought that the parent that had sole physical custody had the final decision making in where the child could stay. However, I don't have a good understanding of what encompasses having sole physical custody. Yes, my order is from Richmond, VA, in Henrico County.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I forgot to mention that there is a Supplemental Order, that was signed into existence on 1/30/13 that states, "The visiting party shall inform the other generally where and with whom the child will be during visits".
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for that information.

I'll be typing an answer to your question so I apologize in advance for the emails it will generate.

Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 defines joint custody as follows:

  1. joint legal custody, where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child’s primary residence may be with only one parent;
  2. joint physical custody, where both parents share physical and custodial care of the child

Also put, joint legal custody has to do with decision-making. The child may live primarily with one parent—the “primary physical custodian”—but the parents communicate and cooperate to make important decisions in the child’s life jointly.

So according to the laws in VA, where it is not stated in the agreement who has final decision making, the major decisions are to be made by both parents.

That being said -- while you don't have the final decision as to where she would stay overnight, you absolutely have the right to know, and by the way, if it turns out to be something that is not safe for some reason, you absolutely have a right to object to it.

In many cases, believe it or not, people go back to court to argue over the fact that dad or mom doesn't tell the other one where the child is. He HAS to tell you where she is. I wouldn't withhold custody, but I would have a family lawyer draft a letter to him letting him know that he's headed for court if he doesn't provide information as to where the child is staying. You have the right to know that.

You asked a bunch of different questions so let me read the new ones so I can get to them.

Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 1 year ago.

Okay, thanks for that. The Supplemental Order states what is supposed to happen.

Therefore, he is violating the Supp Order! You can take him to court for violating the order.

This is what happens in VA for violating a court order:

When one party in a custody or divorce case violates a court order, the other party has the opportunity to petition the court for enforcement of the order. In Virginia, this is called a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause. At the Show Cause hearing, the judge will give HIM an opportunity to defend his actions and present evidence as to why he violated the court order. If the court does not accept his explanation, the court may hold him in contempt and may issue a punishment that will vary depending on the type and severity of the violation.

As long as you're going back to court, if you are, make sure you get language that states that you have the final say if you can get it. You might not be able to get it but I would try anyway.

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