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COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA

COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA


Present: Judges Coleman, Elder and Fitzpatrick
Argued at Richmond, Virginia


JOHN K. CRISCO, JR.

v. Record No. 2049-96-2

ROBIN T. SORENSEN (CRISCO) MEMORANDUM OPINION BY
JUDGE SAM W. COLEMAN III
ROBIN T. SORENSEN (CRISCO) APRIL 29, 1997

v. Record No. 2136-96-2

JOHN K. CRISCO, JR.


FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHESTERFIELD COUNTY
Herbert C. Gill, Jr., Judge

Donald K. Butler (Player B. Michelsen; Joseph F.
Grove; Robert "Jay" Finch; Morano, Colan & Butler;
Joseph F. Grove, P.C., on briefs), for John K.
Crisco, Jr.

John N. Clifford (Vera Duke; Clifford & Duke,
P.C., on briefs), for Robin T. Sorensen (Crisco).


Upon review of the record and consideration of the briefs
and legal authority, we find no reversible error in the trial
court's refusal to modify child visitation, in awarding the
mother attorney's fees (Record No. 2049-96-2), or in ordering the
mother to share in the transportation costs for visitation
(Record No. 2136-96-2). Accordingly, we affirm the order of the
trial court.
Before a trial court may modify a custody or visitation
order, the evidence must prove that a change in circumstances has
occurred since the most recent award and that a change in custody
or visitation would be in the child's best interest. Code
20-108; Keel v. Keel, 225 Va. 606, 611-12, 303 S.E.2d 917, 921
(1983). In determining the custody or visitation privileges that
are in a child's best interest, Code 20-124.2 directs that the
trial court "shall assure minor children of frequent and
continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and
encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing
their children." Code 20-124.3 sets forth factors that the
court shall consider in determining custody and visitation
rights. On appeal, we reverse an award of custody or visitation
only where the trial court has abused its discretion, which
requires that the decision be plainly wrong and without evidence
to support it. Peple v. Peple, 5 Va. App. 414, 422, 364 S.E.2d
232, 237 (1988).
In October 1995, the trial court awarded custody of the
parties' two-year-old daughter to the mother and granted the
father overnight visitation every other weekend from Saturday at
10:00 a.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and two weeks during the
summer. At the time, both the father and mother resided in
Richmond. Soon thereafter the father moved to North Carolina.
He petitioned the court to modify the visitation to allow for
longer, but less frequent, visitation to enable him to travel
with his daughter to visit his home in North Carolina and to
visit his parents. Due to the travel time from Richmond to North
Carolina, the father asserted that the existing visitation
schedule made it impractical to take his daughter to his home in
North Carolina and compelled him to visit with his daughter only
at a motel or friend's home in Richmond. By order dated
August 2, 1996, the trial court found that a change of
circumstance had occurred due to the father's relocation.
However, the court found the changed circumstance did not warrant
a change in the visitation schedule. The court retained the same
visitation schedule but granted the father leave, effective April
24, 1996, to travel out of state with his two and one-half year
old daughter once per month during a normal weekend visit. The
trial court awarded the mother $5,000 attorney's fees.
We cannot say that an overnight visitation every other
weekend with leave to travel to the father's home in North
Carolina once per month does not satisfy the requirement set
forth in Code 20-124.2 that trial courts "shall assure minor
children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents,
. . . and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of
rearing their children." Although a three day visitation every
third weekend, as requested by the father, arguably might better
accommodate both the father and daughter, we cannot find that the
trial court abused its discretion by refusing to further modify
the visitation schedule in view of the age of the child and
frequent changes in the custody and visitation schedules.
As to the award of attorney's fees, considering the number
of hearings, the amount of discovery, and the preparation that
was necessary based upon the record, the trial court did not
abuse its discretion by awarding the wife $5,000 attorney's fees.
See Poliquin v. Poliquin, 12 Va. App. 676, 685, 406 S.E.2d 401,
405 (1991).
As to the transportation costs associated with the father's
visitation with the daughter, the trial court did not impose the
financial burden exclusively upon either parent. Instead, the
trial court required the parents to share the costs. The trial
court did not abuse its discretion by ordering the mother to
share in the transportation costs for the visitation. See
Eichelberger v. Eichelberger, 2 Va. App. 409, 412, 345 S.E.2d 10,
11 (1986).
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the
trial court.
Affirmed.
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