Divorce courts deciding custody often look at travel time when they juggle visitation schedules.
One Fairfax court got right down to the daily commute, deciding a child should change from a Virginia school to one in Annapolis in order to cut his windshield time.
When William Atkins and Debra Piccirillo divorced in 2005, the parties shared joint legal custody and physical custody of their son, with visitation rotating on a week-to-week basis. Atkins had a home in McLean and a vacation and weekend home in Annapolis.
Each party remarried and brought additional children into the mix. Their son began having problems with the mom’s new husband. The dad’s new wife was pregnant with twins and couldn’t move from Annapolis. In 2009, Fairfax Circuit Judge Dennis J. Smith awarded physical custody to the father and ordered that the child should attend school in Annapolis.
The mom accused the dad of a “deceptive and unilateral relocation” to Maryland. But Smith said the dad had kept the court apprised of his situation, and the court had first suggested a transportation schedule that would work best considering traffic in January 2009. In June 2009, Smith said the child should stay with the dad because it was “too difficult” for the nine-year-old child to live in Annapolis and drive to Fairfax for school.
“It’s too difficult for a child to go through that every morning, sometimes to be in a two-hour drive to school, and then an hour and a half drive back. It’s too much time in the car for him,” Smith said.
Today the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed that custody change in an unpublished opinion.
By Deborah Elkins