How Virginia Handles Child Custody

Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process for most. In addition to splitting your assets, rebuilding yourself financially, and figuring out your new life, there is the daunting process of child custody..

Because your role as a parent will likely not end when you get divorced, you are left unsure of where your kids will be, how far from you they may live, and how much of their lives you will get to be a part of. It is vital to understand that you can be an excellent parent after a divorce, and your kids will still be a considerable part of your life. To help you understand more, this is how custody is handled in Virginia.

Legal & Physical

When talking about custody, there are two aspects to be considered. Legal custody pertains to decision-making. When you have joint legal custody, you and your former spouse have an equal say regarding education, religion, and medical care.

Physical custody is where the children reside. Depending on circumstances, the children could be in both homes equally or have a primary residence. That means they spend the majority of their time in one house. For example, if your kids visit you every other weekend and two weeks in the summer, it is approximately a 70/30 split.

How It Gets Determined

In some states, judges usually start with 50/50 shared physical custody and then make determinations from there based on what is in the child’s best interest. In Virginia, that is not the case. In other words, a judge does not immediately assume 50/50 is in the child’s best interest before considering the facts and circumstances particular to the case.

Judges do not give preference based on gender. There are several factors they consider equally. However, it is important to know that a judge does not have to decide for you. You and your former spouse can reach an agreement. Your attorney can draft it, have both of you sign it and send it to a judge for approval.

Short of that, a judge looks at each parent’s role in the child’s life before separation, how attached the child is to a location and the family members nearby, and even each parent’s willingness to be a part of the child’s life while including the other parent.

In the end, the paramount concern of the court is the best interests of the child. For a complete listing of the factors a judge will consider in determining custody and visitation you may refer to Virginia Code Section 20-124.3.

Law Office of Robert Dawson

Great people can quickly find themselves involved in the divorce process. Though the child custody process can be complex, put your trust in legal counsel to help you through it. At the Law Office of Robert Dawson, we pride ourselves on finding unique solutions to your most challenging problems. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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You have more power than you realize. If you need a professional attorney who has built a reputation within employment and business law, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dawson. We are passionate about protecting our clients and pursuing their interests. Contact us for tailored legal solutions.

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