Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 18, 2023
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 18, 2023//
Where the court has determined that father’s contact with the parties’ child “is not appropriate,” mother is awarded sole legal and physical custody, and father is denied “any form of visitation[.]”
“The critical question in this case, which overrides all other considerations, is the best interests of SAS. The Court stresses this point because both parties spent an inordinate amount of time explaining to the Court, or attempting to explain to the Court, how their respective positions were in the best interest of each party.
“The parties relationship with each other is toxic in the extreme. This is of no importance to the Court in a vacuum, but it is of extreme relevance to the Court insofar as its effect on SAS, who is four-years old.
“Pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 20-124.3(2), the Court is required to consider the mental and physical condition of the parties. Neither party particularly shined in this regard.”
However, “[t]hroughout his testimony, Father had a bizarre fixation on Mother’s personal life, commenting that she had six or seven miscarriages, when Mother’s testimony was that she had had none.”
Father’s describing mother “as a ‘white trash whore’ (in front of SAS) is indefensible, and leaves the Court in a quandary as to Father’s mental stability, particularly as it relates to females such as Mother and SAS. …
“During the occasions when Father was permitted to undertake supervised visitation, he inexplicably brought another biological child (a half-brother of SAS) to that supervised visitation, which was contrary to the rules of the organization overseeing the supervised visitation.
“Compounding this error in judgment, the Court notes that Father never told Mother about the existence of Father’s other biological child, and the first Mother was aware of the existence of this child is when Father’s child, out of the blue and clearly at Father’s direction, knocked on the front door of Mother’s home and announced that he wanted to see his ‘sister.’ …
“Ultimately, the Court finds and concludes that Mother has played a positive role in the life of SAS. Father has not.”
“[T]he [guardian ad litem] in this matter is a seasoned attorney who has been involved in this case for several years. He has interacted with the parties and SAS on numerous occasions. The GAL recommended that Father have no custody or visitation with SAS, which is significant to the Court.
“While the Court acknowledges that it is a rare occasion that a parent is not granted visitation with a child, the Court hereby finds and concludes that contact with this child by Father is not appropriate.
“Accordingly, the Court grants Mother’s request for sole legal and physical custody. Based on the evidence before the Court, the Court finds that as of this date, it is not in the best interests of SAS to have any form of visitation with Father.”
Furlong v. Stenberg, CJ 20-218 through 221, June 26, 2023. In the Circuit Court of the City of Roanoke (Carson). Brittany F. Gordon, Jeff Campbell, Joseph F. Vannoy for the parties. VLW 023-8-035, 4 pp.