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Virginia laws on child custody and visitation arrangements


Many minor children of estranged parents suffer emotionally while their parents are going through the divorce process. Laws in Virginia mandate that courts make prompt decisions on child custody and visitation right issues, keeping the best interest of the child in mind first.

Courts often suggest mediation as an alternative method for dispute resolution, whenever necessary. Mediation allows an agreement that will address the child's care and development and resolve the disputes between the parents.

It is the responsibility of the court, while resolving the child custody and visitation issues, to ensure that the child continues to maintain proper contact with both parents. However, that can only happen if it is in the child's best interest. The court should also encourage both parents to share the responsibility of bringing up the child.

Although the parent-child relationship is most important in that situation, the court has the power to grant custody and visitation to other people if there is enough evidence that such decisions will be in the best interest of the child. The court can rely on psychological evaluations in order to determine what constitutes the best interests of the child.

Child support can be ordered for a child above 18 years of age if that child is a full-time high school student and is living with the person to whom child support is paid. The child support must continue until the child turns 19 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. Child support must continue for children who suffer from a severe and permanent mental or physical disability and cannot support themselves. The court can also order payment of healthcare expenses for a child in such a situation.

Source: Leg1.state.va.us, "Court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements," Accessed on Mar. 24, 2015

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