The Commonwealth of Virginia allows joint custody. Courts consider the child’s best interests when determining the type of custody to award. There is no presumption in Virginia for a particular type of custody or that one parent over the other should get custody. Courts intend that children should spend adequate time with both parents.
Facing a child custody battle is heart-wrenching and emotionally draining. You want what’s best for your child while preserving your relationship with them.
Securing a favorable custody and visitation arrangement can be challenging, especially if you and your ex don’t get along. Understanding your legal rights and the available custody options can help protect your child’s interests.
Understanding Joint Custody in Virginia
A joint custody arrangement allows both parents to assume responsibility for the child’s emotional, moral, and physical development. They share the rights and responsibilities of decision-making that will affect their child.
Two primary types of joint custody include:
- Joint legal custody – Joint legal custody involves parental decisions about a minor child’s life. The child might live with one parent most of the time, but the parents must communicate with each other about necessary decisions. A joint legal custody arrangement ensures frequent and continuing contact with both parents and encourages both parents to share the responsibilities of raising a child.
- Joint physical custody – Joint physical custody means that the child lives with each parent some of the time. The child might live with each parent on an alternating weekly schedule or with one parent during the school year and the other during the summer.
Factors Influencing Joint Custody Orders
Many people assume the courts favor the mother in child custody cases. However, the Commonwealth of Virginia orders child custody based on the child’s best interests. Judges can consider multiple factors to determine whether joint custody suits the child’s needs, such as:
- Each parent’s age and mental and physical condition
- Each parent’s propensity to actively support the child’s relationship and contact with the other parent, including whether either unreasonably denied the other parent visitation or access to the child
- The existing relationship between the child and each parent, while considering the positive involvement with the child’s life and each parent’s ability to accurately assess and meet the child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual needs
- The child’s preference if the court deems them to be of reasonable understanding, experience, intelligence, and age to communicate their preference
- The child’s age and physical and mental condition, considering their changing developmental needs
- Each parent’s role in caring for the upbringing of the child
- The child’s needs, taking into account other essential relationships, such as siblings, extended family members, and peers
- Each parent’s relative willingness and demonstrated ability to maintain a close and continuing relationship with their child and each person’s ability to resolve and cooperate during disputes involving issues that affect the child
- History of sexual abuse, family abuse, child abuse, or acts of force, threats, or violence within ten years before the date of filing a petition for divorce
Judges can also use other factors they deem proper and necessary to decide on child custody cases.
Modifying Child Custody Agreements
You can request to modify a child custody order if either parent’s circumstances or the benefit of your child requires it. Circumstances allowing for a child custody modification include:
- Either parent has moved
- The child’s health or educational needs aren’t being met
- Either parent has remarried or had another child
- One parent withholds visitation from the other
- Remaining in the custodial parent’s home isn’t healthy or safe for the child due to mental illness, drug addiction, or another significant factor
Speak to an Experienced Virginia Beach Child Custody Lawyer Now
If you face a child custody battle, seeking representation from a skilled and trusted Child Custody Attorney is crucial. At Anchor Legal Group, PLLC, we have the necessary experience to handle disputes between divorcing couples and establish a plan that benefits everyone.
Call us at (757) 529-0000 for a confidential consultation today.