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Child custody basics in Virginia

Many parents getting divorced in Virginia worry about the impact it will have on their family and children. Child custody is one of the biggest issues for parents getting divorced. How will child custody be determined? Where will the kids live? How often will I see my kids? These are all very common questions divorcing parents ask themselves. 

It is important for parents to understand the basics of child custody in Virginia. Child custody refers to the care and maintenance of a child, and there are a few different types of child custody to be aware of. 

The different types of custody are joint legal custody, joint physical custody and sole custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents share the responsibility of caring for the child and making decisions for the child even if the child primarily lives with one parent. 

Joint physical custody means that both parents share custodial care for the child. This means the child often splits time living with both parents.

Sole custody means that only one parent is responsible for caring for the child, and this parent makes day-to-day decisions for the child. 

It is also important for parents to understand visitation guidelines in Virginia. The parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child is legally entitled to have visitation with the child unless it is not in the best interest for the child. Parents typically have a visitation schedule or agreement that includes what days a parent can see the child.

These agreements also include how visitation will be handled during holidays, summer breaks, vacations and other special occasions. A judge will order a visitation schedule for parents who cannot agree to one on their own. 

Child custody arrangements may be difficult at first but both parents should make an attempt to make the situation work for the benefit of everyone in the family, especially their kids.

Source: Virginia's Judicial System, "What is Custody?" Dec. 19, 2013

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