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Virginia Child Custody 101

If you and your spouse have children and have either recently finalized a divorce or are going through the process now, you undoubtedly have thought about the issue of child custody. Who has the right to house your child, you or your spouse? How do you file for custody?

This all depends on you and your spouse’s particular situation. Everything from whether you both are on good terms, which one of you is more financially stable, which type of custody you hope to apply for, and more, all play a role in the custody process. To fully understand the best course of action for your case, contact a child custody lawyer in Northern Virginia like Dua Law.

Here’s a basic guide to understanding child custody laws in Virginia:

Factors That Determine Custody

Which parent receives custody will depend on a variety of factors. Many of these factors include:

  • The child’s age
  • The physical and mental condition of the child
  • The physical and mental conditions of the parents
  • The ability of the divorcing spouses to cooperate amicably
  • The existing relationship between each parent and child
  • The child’s preference
  • Any concerning traits of either parent, including history of child abuse, domestic abuse, or a criminal record
  • Each parent’s financial responsibility and stability
  • The child’s needs

Types of Custody

The issue of child custody does not come down to just, “Which parent has the right to the child?” There are different types of custody that parents can apply for, or that a judge may decide to award in the best interests of the child.  The two types of custody are legal custody and physical custody.  Legal custody deals with making the major decisions in the child’s life, including medical, educational, etc.  Whereas, physical custody involves where the child lives during the week.

When it comes to legal and physical custody the courts in Virginia usually look at the following arrangements:

  • Sole/Primary Custody: Sole custody grants one parent all primary responsibility for the child. In terms of physical custody this means that the child primarily lives with one parent and the other parent has visitation.   For sole legal custody this parent alone is responsible for making the major decisions regarding the child.  Sole legal custody can be rare, usually reserved for cases in which one parent is abusive or the parents simply cannot behave amicably enough to share custody.
  • Joint Custody: There are two primary types of joint custody: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. If joint legal custody is granted, both parents have shared responsibility for making the major decisions regarding the child. If joint physical custody is granted, both parents share physical care of the child, which usually means the parents alternate weeks or share the week. The court can also grant a mix of these two types of joint custody.
  • Split Custody: Split custody is uncommon but it involves situations where each parent has primary physical custody of a separate child. For example, the Father has physical custody of the teenage son and the Mother has physical custody of the younger daughter.

Overall, the courts will make the best interests of the child the primary deciding factor. It is possible for child custody agreements to be modified if there is a material change in circumstances and a change in custody is in the best interests of the child.  No matter your individual circumstances and the type of custody you apply for, make sure you understand how the child custody process works. Consult Dua Law Firm, a child custody lawyer in Northern Virginia.

Navigate the Custody Process with a Skilled Child Custody Lawyer in Northern Virginia

Negotiating and applying for child custody can be an overwhelming and stressful process, especially on top of the already straining divorce process. Hiring a child custody lawyer in Northern Virginia will ensure that you navigate the process with ease and are prepared to earn the best type of custody for the child.

Contact Dua Law Firm to speak to one of our family law attorneys.