Thank you for your help. I know where she is or was, she just won't return letters and her number was changed years ago. I've tried contacting through her family as well, but no luck.
As you noted "given my record" negotiating with her would be best. Do you feel that, given my record and the time between last contact, that a judge would deny my request to be in my son's life? Doing basic internet research, I've read that even in cases much worse than mine, judges tend to believe it is in the best interest of the child to know the father; however, most all of that which I read came from legal advice relating to other states.
Can you offer any insight to this?
If I try to get an attorney, would these processes be very costly?
I had also been considering to petition her for mediation. That's how we did the custody/visitation originally, though it was later done through a court when we changed it.
Va. Code Section 20-124.2(B) provides in relevant part as follows: "In determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The 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...." So, except in cases where domestic or sexual assault has been committed by the parent against the child, the legal presumption in VA favors a relationship with both parents.
Thank you very much. I was becoming discouraged. I want what is best for my son. I became estranged because I knew my lifestyle was fast becoming unsuitable for a child; I would not look into visitation unless I was certain about my recovery and my own stability. Even in this respect, I still wonder if it is best just in regards to the potential emotional stress he may experience having to get to know me in an awkward way. At the same time, I do not want him to grow into manhood thinking his father does not love him nor care to be in his life, which is what his mother might tell him.
I was also very concerned that my felony being against an ex, therefore a "family member", would be a disqualification. I will look into attorneys in the area. Thank you again.
You are very welcome! And definitely do not be discouraged! In my experience, any parent who is honest and humble and willing to bend over backwards to ensure that the best interests of their child are served above all (and makes that abundantly clear to the court by both what they say and what they do) will be given every chance possible.