There are a lot of details for spouses to sort out during a divorce. One common concern for divorcing spouses in Virginia is who will get custody of the child or children when the divorce is final.
Previously, most states would award custody to the mother if the child was 5 years of age or younger. However, this has since changed and no state requires that custody be awarded to the mother without analyzing the fitness of both parents.
Custody is not always awarded to just one parent. Courts frequently award joint custody to the parents if both parents are fit to care for the child. Here are three forms of joint custody to consider:
• Joint Physical Custody: the child or children will spend a considerable amount of time with both parents equally
• Joint Legal Custody: the parents will make important decisions regarding the child or children such as medical and educational needs
• Both physical and legal custody
If the courts only award child custody to one parent and visitation to the other, then the divorcing spouses have to think about an appropriate visitation schedule. One thing to consider is that the parent awarded custody will generally get to decide how much time is appropriate. In this case, parents will need to cooperate and develop a visitation schedule that works for them and the child.
In the event that the parents cannot come to an agreement on visitation, a mediator can step in to help resolve the issue. A mediator serves as a neutral party and does not involve a lawyer or expert witnesses. Instead, a mediator will focus on encouraging communication between the two parents and help foster cooperation so that the parents can make better decisions on behalf of the child or children.