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Bitter child custody battle keeps tennis star off of the court

Virginians who follow international tennis may notice that one powerful player is missing from this year's women's U.S. Open: Victoria Azarenka. The 28-year-old former world number 1 player will not be competing in the Grand Slam event due to an ongoing child custody dispute with the father of her young son.

Azarenka gave birth to her baby in December of last year. In July of 2017 she and the child's father separated and began a fight over how the child's custody would be managed. A court blocked her from taking her baby across state lines in order to compete in the U.S. Open and Azarenka chose not to leave her child.

Just as married parents must undertake child custody negotiations when they choose to end their relationships in divorce, so too must unmarried couples who decide not to pursue their relations. A parent who is biologically tied to a child or who has legally adopted a child and who has not had their parental rights terminated may pursue legal and physical custody of their child; in many cases courts hearing custodial disputes will attempt to determine the children's best interests before proffering orders on where the children should live.

It is unknown how long it will take the court to decide if Azarenka will maintain custody of her son or if she will be able to travel with him to compete in the future. As the matter moves forward, though, it is likely that both parents and their legal teams will advocate for the parents' rights and how they may provide for the best interests of their little boy.

Source: washingtonpost.com, "Azarenka withdraws from US Open amid child custody dispute," Aug. 21, 2017

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