Virginia Child Custody Norfolk Visitation Support

by admin on June 28, 2010

CHRISTOPHER SCOTT SWALEF v. ANDREA ANDERSON

COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA

50 Va. App. 100

June 26, 2007, Decided

Issue:

Whether the Norfolk Circuit Court erred “by not extending full faith and credit to the Minnesota judgment that concluded Virginia had exclusive jurisdiction over the child custody proceedings between the parties.”?

The Minnesota Court explicitly found that “[a]bsent a decline of jurisdiction by that jurisdiction, the Commonwealth of Virginia has continuing jurisdiction over the issue of child custody in this matter.”  This holding, if binding on the Virginia courts, does not preclude the Norfolk courts from declining jurisdiction over custody. In fact, the order explicitly notes that the Virginia courts can decline jurisdiction. In short, even if the Minnesota order were binding on Virginia courts, that order by its explicit wording allows Virginia to decline jurisdiction.  The Norfolk Circuit Court order is consistent with the Minnesota decree as the holding of the Minnesota Court — that Virginia has continuing jurisdiction — certainly also allows the Virginia courts to decline to exercise that jurisdiction under Virginia Code § 20-146.18, which permits a Virginia court to decline the exercise of its jurisdiction over a child custody matter such as the one before us. Therefore, even if Virginia has jurisdiction over this custody case, a court can refuse to exercise that jurisdiction

The court held that “we find that the Norfolk Circuit Court acted entirely within its authority when it declined to exercise jurisdiction over the custody petition filed by father. That court did not abuse its discretion when it deferred to the authority of the White Earth Court, therefore, this court affirms the Norfolk Circuit Court’s child custody order.”

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group.  They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions.  The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.


About the Author:
The SRIS Law Group Virginia child custody lawyers assist clients with child custody cases, divorce cases & family law cases.  The SRIS Law Group has law offices in Fairfax, Richmond, Lynchburg, Prince William County, Loudoun County & Virginia Beach.
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