When parents can no longer maintain their relationship, they often seek to separate or divorce. While this may be a healthy choice for them, it is not always an easy situation for the children to navigate. For some, the process of creating a custody and visitation plan may be simple, easy and amicable. However, in many cases, it is a matter where there are several disagreements. Thus, it is important that parents in Virginia understand their rights when it comes to securing custody and visitation of their child or children.
What is custody?
In the state of Virginia, there are three types of custody. The first is joint legal custody. This is when both parents have the joint responsibility for the care and control of the child. In other words, they both have the authority to make decisions that concern the child even in situations where the child only lives with one parent. The second type is joint physical custody. This is when both parents share the physical and custodial care of the child.
The final type of custody is sole custody. This is when one parent is afforded the primary responsibility for the care of the child. In essence, they get to make all the daily decisions of the child’s life.
When are parent is not awarded primary physical custody, they are legally entitled to visitation. However, when this is done, the expectation is that visitation is in the best interests of the child. In these matters, if the parents are unable to reach a visitation agreement, a judge will order a schedule that will indicate the days as well as the holidays and breaks the parent is able to have visitation with the child.
These matters could be further complicated if the parents do not get along, cannot communicate or there are allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse. In these cases, as Guardian Ad Litem is appointed to help determine custody and visitation when it comes to meeting the best interests of the child.
While it may take time to reach a final resolution, it is important to note that custody and visitation orders could change over time. Modification might be necessary if one parent moves, a parent has failed to pay child support, a parent is accused of a crime, the child seeks to live with one parent or any other circumstances that require changes to the current order. Thus, one should be prepared to revisit the order and even return to court to do so.