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Línea Nacional para la Violencia Doméstica: 1-800-799-7233 o (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Conozca la Ley: U.S. Virgin Islands

ACTUALIZADA 23 de octubre, 2016

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a lawyer in your community for more information on custody. Go to the VI Where to Find Help page for a list of organizations in your community that can help.

General information

arribaWhat is custody?

Custody in the Virgin Islands is the right and responsibility to care for and control a child. There are two types of custody, physical and legal.

Physical Custody: The right to have the child live in the parent's or caregiver's home. The person with physical custody will make the day-to-day decisions for the child. A person with physical custody of a child is also entitled to receive child support from the other parent.

Legal Custody: The right to make the major decisions in the child's life, such as where the child goes to school, the religion the child practices, etc. A person with legal custody also has legal access to any documents for the child, including medical and school records, and has control of a child's assets.

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arribaHow do I obtain custody?

In order to obtain a custody order, a person must file a petition for custody with the court. This petition would be served on all persons who have an interest in the custody of the child, typically the parents, and/or other persons with whom the child lives.

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arribaShould I start a court case to ask for supervised visits?

If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).

However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice BEFORE you start a court case to ask for supervised visits. We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.

In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure. Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time -- and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.

In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to VI Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank the Legal Services of the Virgin Islands, Inc. for helping with a previous version of this page.

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