Child Custody Arrangements in Virginia

In Need of a Child Custody Attorney?

Ending a relationship can be an emotional and stressful process and adding child custody battles on top of that can make the divorce process very complex. Hiring the right child custody attorney who will help you understand the basics of child custody arrangements can make this difficult process easier.

Child Custody Arrangements Explained

The two types of custody in Virginia are┬álegal and physical. Legal custody is a parent’s right to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including education, religion, and medical care. While physical custody refers to which parent will provide a primary residence for the child. The court may award joint custody, sole custody, or a combination of both.

Joint Custody

If the parents get along and have decent communication skills, judges usually award them joint legal custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right to participate in making decisions for their child, regardless of where the child lives. For instance, the judge may award sole physical custody to one parent but joint legal custody to both. When parents share legal custody, neither can make important decisions for the child without consulting the other first.

Joint physical custody means that the parents share physical care and custody of the child, though it doesn’t always mean that the child will spend exactly 50% of the time with each parent. In some cases, the child might alternate week-long visits at each parent’s residence. In others, the child may spend every weekend with one parent, but remain with the other parent during the week while school is in session.

Sole Custody

Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the authority to make decisions concerning the child. Sole physical custody means that only one parent retains responsibility for the the child’s care and control.

Unlike some states, where the laws assume that joint custody is in the child’s best interest, Virginia law specifically prohibits judges from beginning a custody evaluation with the assumption that any particular type of custody is in the child’s best interest. Instead, judges must make an independent evaluation using specific factors based on the child’s best interest.

Custody Agreements

One of the easiest ways to settle a custody case is for the parents to create a plan together. If you and your ex can communicate and agree on all the provisions in a custody agreement (physical and legal custody, sole or joint, and parenting time), the judge will approve your agreement if the arrangements appear to be in the child’s best interest.

Montgomery Kelley & Dennett are here to help!

If you’re having trouble agreeing on all the details of your child custody case, you may consider attending mediation together. A child custody attorney from Montgomery, Kelley, & Dennett will help mediate this process to ensure that we all do what is best for the child.