If you are considering filing for divorce or splitting from a partner, it can become much more complicated when children are involved. You will need to reach an agreement on custody and visitation or let a judge decide this. Knowing the available options can help you make an informed decision that is right for you and your children.
How Is Custody of Children Awarded in Virginia?
Whether you are involved in a custody dispute in a divorce or other custody proceeding, the determining factor for who is awarded custody will be the best interests of the child. There are three custody options in Virginia:
- Joint legal custody. With this type of arrangement, both parents have the same rights and responsibilities to control and care for the child. The child may spend more physical time at one parent’s house, but both parents share equally in making decisions about him.
- Joint physical custody. Joint physical custody means that both parents share fairly equally in the physical care and time with their child. It does not necessarily mean that each parent gets exactly equal time. In addition, the parents would not also have joint legal custody unless the parties agreed to this as well or it was ordered by the judge.
- Sole custody. Sole custody gives one parent the right to make major decisions about the child’s life and responsibility for his care. However, the noncustodial parent will most likely have the right to visitation with the child.
It is important to keep in mind that visitation and custody are different. Visitation is the right to spend time with one’s child, and disputes deal with issues like how often and long visitation will be, where it can be, and whether it can be unsupervised or supervised where another adult must be present.
An experienced family law attorney can discuss your situation with you and advise you on the best custody options for you. This could lead to an agreement between you and your spouse about custody of your children or at least give you an idea of what to expect if you must let the judge make this decision for you. To find out more, call our office to schedule your free consultation.