An Overview of Child Custody Laws in Virginia (Part A)Divorce is a difficult situation for any woman. As a mother who will be simultaneously filing for divorce and dealing the issue of child custody, the situation can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. It is crucial to understand the Virginia child custody laws that guide the courts in making their decisions regarding the custody of your children.
Having an experienced Virginia child custody lawyer will provide you with the knowledge and support you need to navigate the legal system. A qualified Virginia child custody lawyer can help you avoid possible pitfalls and give you critical advice to ensure the result of your case will be in the best interest of you and your child.
Knowing the basics of Virginia child custody laws will enable you to work more effectively with your attorney to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Understanding Virginia Child Custody Laws
In a Virginia divorce in which children are involved, the courts will decide to what degree each parent will be able to legally make decisions for their child and how much time each parent will be able to spend with the child. There are several different options for the court to consider when determining what kind of situation would be best for raising your child:
- De Facto Custody: Refers to the temporary custody granted to the parent with whom the child resides at the time of the divorce, pending the decision of the court. (If you have de facto custody, you should formalize it with a motion to the court prior to litigation.)
- Legal Custody: Legal custody is the ability for a parent to make major decisions about a child's life such as education, non-emergency medical care, religion, etc.
- Joint Legal Custody: When a judge awards joint legal custody, it means both parents have the ability to, and should, come to an agreement on major life decisions for their child.
- Sole Legal Custody: One parent is given the ability to make major decisions for their child.
- Physical Custody: Refers to which parent (or both) with whom the child will reside.
- Shared Physical Custody: Also called joint physical custody, wherein both parents spend a considerable amount of time with their child.
- Primary Physical Custody: Also referred to as sole physical custody, wherein a child lives primarily with one parent and may have visitation with the other.
- Split Physical Custody: When there is more than one child to consider and the children are "split" between the two households.
- Visitation: The time that a child spends with the parent who does not have primary physical custody.
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