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Custody and visitation determinations involving your child or children can be the most important decisions you will be faced with in your case. Cole Miller attorneys are here to guide you in lessening the impact of divorce on your children. |
There are two broad elements in custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the time your children spend with you, in your custodial care, and legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions concerning your child, such as medical, school-related, or religious decisions, relating to the child. Physical custody and legal custody can be shared between the parents in many different ways depending on the family history, needs of the children, and other factors that courts are required to consider in deciding the best interests of the children.
Whether you are seeking sole custody or joint custody, our attorneys have experience helping to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for you and your children.
How Do Virginia Courts Determine Custody?
Virginia courts must decide what type of legal custody and physical custody arrangement should be ordered, by determining what is in each child’s best interest.
How Does the Court Determine what is in a Child’s Best Interests?
The court considers the statutory best interest factors set forth in the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, at Section 20-124.3.
What Does Sole Custody Mean?
Sole Custody may refer to “Sole Legal Custody” where one parent is designated as the parent with sole authority to make important decisions concerning the child’s health, education and upbringing. It may also refer to “Primary Physical Custody” where one parent is designated as the primary custodian for the child, and the other parent has court-ordered visitation time. A Virginia court order could use “Sole Custody” to refer to an arrangement where one parent will have Sole Legal Custody and Primary Physical Custody of the child and the other parent will have visitation. Sole Custody does not mean that you no longer discuss important decisions with the other parent; you continue to have an obligation to consult with the other parent, but the sole custodian has the sole authority to make the decision.
What is Joint Custody?
Joint Custody can refer to “Joint Legal Custody” or to a “Shared Physical Custody” arrangement, as well as to an arrangement where the parties have both “Joint Legal Custody” and “Shared Physical Custody”. Parents who have “Joint Legal Custody” are supposed to not only consult with one another in advance of making important decisions concerning their children, but to make such decisions by mutual consent. “Joint Custody” may also be used to describe a physical custody arrangement where each parent has the children 50% of the time.
What is Shared Physical Custody?
Shared Physical Custody can be used to describe a 50/50 schedule or any schedule where each parent has the children at least 25% of the time. Under the child support statute, “Shared Custody” is any custodial schedule where each parent has the child in his or her respective care for at least 90 days per year. A day is defined as a full 24-hour period; although a parent who has the child in his or her custodial care over-night will get credit for a half day (.5) for any day the child is with them over-night, but for less than a full 24 hour period. For example, from 5pm on a Wednesday night to the start of school the next morning, would be counted as a half day (.5) when counting custodial days to determine if you meet the definition of having “Shared Physical Custody.”
Teresa S. Cole
Michael C. Miller
Virginia C. Haizlip
Amanda Stone Swart
Camille J. DiIlio
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