What Determines Child Custody in Virginia?

What Determines Child Custody in Virginia?

Child custody is one of the most important and emotional issues to consider if you’re divorcing or separating from your child’s other parent. The arrangements you make now will affect you and your child for years to come, so understanding how courts handle these matters is essential. A seasoned family law attorney can bring clarity to the legal process, help you understand your options, and aim for a resolution that protects your child’s future.

Child Custody Arrangements in Virginia

Understanding the different types of child custody arrangements in Virginia is essential for parents working through a custody case. The commonwealth’s laws focus on the child’s best interests and provide a range of custody options to fit diverse family dynamics. Here are the main types of arrangements:

  • Sole Legal Custody: Legal custody is the right to make decisions about a child’s welfare, like where they go to school or receive medical care. In sole legal custody arrangements, one parent holds the exclusive right to make major decisions about the child’s life. The other parent might still have visitation rights, but they do not have a say in these major decisions.
  • Joint Legal Custody: Here, both parents share the responsibility and authority to make significant decisions for the child. This arrangement requires parents to communicate and collaborate on issues like the child’s schooling, health care, and religious upbringing.
  • Sole Physical Custody: Physical custody is the right to have a child live with you. Sole physical custody means the child lives primarily with one parent. The other parent might have visitation rights, which would allow them to spend time with the child according to a schedule. The primary custodian takes care of the day-to-day needs of the child.
  • Joint Physical Custody: In joint physical custody arrangements, the child spends significant time living with both parents. This setup aims to give the child a relatively equal amount of time with each parent. The specifics can vary, with some parents alternating weeks or splitting each week between both homes.

Factors That Virginia Courts Consider in Custody Determinations

When a court in Virginia decides on a child custody case, it looks at several key factors to ensure the child’s best interests remain at the forefront. Understanding these factors can help parents know what to expect and how to prepare for their custody hearings. Below is a list of considerations that Virginia courts typically examine:

  • The age and physical and mental condition of the child
  • The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
  • The needs of the child, including other important relationships in their life
  • The relationship between each parent and the child
  • The role each parent has played in the child’s life and will play in the future
  • The child’s preference if they are of reasonable age and understanding
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to support the child’s contact with the other parent
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to maintain a close relationship with the child
  • The ability of each parent to cooperate in matters affecting the child
  • Any history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or criminal activity
  • Any history of family abuse or sexual abuse
  • Any other factors the court deems necessary and relevant

Talk to a Family Law Attorney in Virginia Today

Still have questions about your rights as a parent in Virginia? Contact Buczek Carpenter PC for a confidential consultation session now. Our dedicated team is ready to provide the support and advice you need to make informed decisions for your family’s future.