If you are a victim of domestic violence, please apply for help immediately.

Child Custody



Because the demand is great and our staff are limited, SVLAS does not generally provide representation in custody or child support cases unless there have been incidents of domestic violence.

Fortunately, Virginia law allows you to file for custody and child support for each of your minor children without a lawyer. You do this by filing a Petition For Custody and a Petition For Child Support in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court in the city or county where you live. These two petitions are normally filed at the same time.

Who has rights to Custody of a Child?

There is a Court Service Unit for each of those courts that can give you the correct forms and help you complete them.
Click here for a listing of all the J&DR Courts in Virginia.

There is a $25 fee to file a Petition For Custody, however, that fee can be waived if you are low-income and complete the waiver form at the time you file the Petition. There is no fee to file a Petition For Child Support.

If you and the other parent are in agreement about custody, the Judge will enter an Order outlining your wishes. If you are NOT in agreement, the Judge will consider where to place the child(ren) based on what the Judge considers to be in the best interests of the child(ren).

The Judge will award a monthly amount of child support based on a formula which considers the income of each parent.

For more legal information about CUSTODY and CHILD SUPPORT


What is a no fault divorce?
In a no fault divorce, you do not have to claim that your spouse did anything wrong, such as adultery or desertion.
You can file for a no fault divorce as soon as you have lived physically separate and apart from your spouse for either:

6 months—but only if:
– you do not have any children under the age of 18 and have signed a written Separation Agreement dividing your property and resolving all other issues related to your marriage.


12 months—if:
– there are no marital property or debt issues that need to be resolved. This separation must be continuous, without interruption, without cohabitation, and with the intent that the separation will be permanent.

If you and your spouse are in agreement, you can complete your own separation agreement by using our sample form:
Sample Separation Agreement

Can Legal Aid help me with a divorce?

Can you file for divorce without a lawyer?
If you live in Virginia and you and your spouse have resolved all issues concerning custody, support, property, and payment of your debts, then you may be able to create your own divorce pleadings.

For more legal information about DIVORCE