Some people who go through a divorce can look forward to never having to talk to their ex again. Divorcing parents don’t have that luxury, particularly if their children are still young. Typically, these parents must continue to work with each other to coordinate issues of child custody.
This can be difficult, even when the divorce was relatively amicable. In cases following a nasty breakup and a scorched-earth divorce, it can be extremely difficult.
In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the basics of child custody in Virginia.
Child custody and the courts
Under Virginia law, parents have rights to physical custody (to live with their children) and legal custody (to make decisions about the child’s upbringing). The law prefers that the parents will share these types of custody to some degree, and courts prefer that the parents work out how to divide their parental rights and responsibilities. If the parents can’t decide issues themselves, courts decide them based on their determination of the best interests of the child.
Typically, this means that one parent has primary physical custody, meaning that the child lives with them most of the time. However, the other parent has the right to visitation. This could mean that the child stays with them on a regular schedule. Courts want the parents to work out a parenting plan themselves that will include a visitation schedule.
If the parents can’t agree, courts will impose a schedule for visitation if they determine that doing so is in the best interests of the child.
Sharing custody and arranging visitation requires staying in frequent contact with the other parent. It may require seeing them at drop-offs and pickups, and it will probably involve phone calls, emails and texts in which the parents agree to matters of healthcare, education and the like.
These contacts can be hard for a lot of people, but it’s important to not let those uncomfortable feelings interfere with what’s best for the child.