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The basics of child custody laws in Virginia

Virginia child custody laws have some things in common with other states, including that child custody decisions always focus on the best interests of the child. In addition, child custody laws in Virginia give special importance to the wishes of the child. In general, there is typically a custodial parent, who has custody of the child, and sometimes the other parent is non-custodial but enjoys visitation rights with the child. In other circumstances, both parents may share custody.

There are three different types of child custody arrangements in Virginia, including joint legal custody, joint physical custody and sole physical custody. Joint legal custody provides that both parents have rights and responsibility for the care of the child and authority for making decisions for the child. Legal decision-making authority can include the right to make important decisions related to the child's education, religious upbringing or medical care. Joint physical custody refers to a sharing of physical custody between the parents that allows for the child to alternate at the residence of each parent according to a child custody agreement.

On the other hand, sole custody refers to when one parent maintains physical custody of the child and has the responsibility and authority for making daily decisions for the child. The non-custodial parent typically enjoys visitation rights. A parent may be denied visitation rights if it is determined that such visitation would be detrimental to the child. Child custody can be a hot-button issue for many parents and in many divorces. As a result, it is helpful for parents to be familiar with how child custody is determined when going through the divorce and child custody agreement process.

The family law process seeks to facilitate the resolution of concerns divorcing couples commonly have, such as child custody and other issues. When all parties involved are focused on the best interests of the child, and determining what that is, it can help direct the parties toward a positive child custody resolution to their differences that benefits the children.

Source:, "Virginia Child Custody Laws," Accessed March 30, 2016

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