Step 2: Get the custody papers served on the abuser.
After you file for custody, you will have to make sure that the other parent gets legal notice of the court case by having him/her served with the custody petition and accompanying legal documents (called “service of process”). This is done by having a third party (i.e., a process server, someone from the sheriff’s department, or anyone over 18 who is not involved in the case) hand copies of the legal papers to the other parent. Depending on who does the service, there may be a fee. For a list of sheriff departments in Virginia, please see our VA Sheriff Departments page.
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?