Parental Withholding: A Cautionary Yarn

Once a parent files to determine custody and visitation, they are often faced with months long wait times before they can have a final trial of their case on the merits with a Judge. In the meantime, the question often arises, what time should I offer the other parent?

In Virginia, a Judge must consider the law set forth by Virginia Code §20-124.3, which is often called the ten best interest factors when they make his or her final determination of custody and visitation. Factor six of ten is “ The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child.”

As such, unless there are clear and present dangers to a child’s mental or physical wellbeing (which generally has already triggered companion litigation in terms of pending criminal charges, protective orders, CPS involvement, etc.) a parent must make a strong effort to arrange for the other parent to have meaningful and regular time with the child pending a final hearing. If a parent restricts the other parent’s time without good cause, or worse of all prevents any contact without good reason, a Judge may even “flip” custody from one parent to another. With such high stakes, it is important to discuss with an attorney what type of time/schedule a party should offer to the other parent and to understand the consequences of refusing to allow contact with a parent and child while trial is pending.

If you have questions regarding what type of parenting time to offer pending litigation, or questions about what you should seek as parenting time pending litigation, please reach out to or call 804-423-1382.