Northern Virginia Child Custody Lawyer
Protect Your Child's Welfare
One of the hardest decisions to make in a
divorce case is determining arrangements for your children – how important
decisions will be made for them in the future, and when they will spend
time with each parent. Sometimes these issues are settled through
Collaborative divorce, and other times they are aggressively fought for through
divorce litigation in court. Like every family, every case is different. What is not different
is that competent representation can put your mind at ease during a very
In Virginia child custody cases, the court makes a decision regarding parenting
decisions and a schedule for the children based on the best interests
of the child. There are as many custodial arrangements as there are families.
We can help you explore options that are suited to you and your family.
Types of Child Custody in Virginia
There are generally two types of areas of custody to be determined in Virginia:
legal custody and physical custody. Beneath each of these, there are subsections:
joint legal custody or sole legal custody in one category, and primary
physical custody or shared physical custody in another category.
Physical custody refers to the schedule for the children, and how often they are in each
This refers to how important decisions are made for the children, such
as where they go to school, in what religious tradition they are raised,
decisions related to non-emergency medical care, and sometimes, when and
where they are allowed to travel outside of the United States.
Sole Legal Custody
This is when one parent is granted total authority over decision making
for the child. This is unusual, because the court is hesitant to prevent
a parent from having a voice in important decisions. Circumstances where
this is granted include cases with serious mental illness, untreated drug
or alcohol addictions, or abusive relationships.
Joint Legal Custody
This is the other option and is much more common. With joint legal custody,
both parents are given equal authority over important decisions affecting
their children's lives.
In these cases, either the parents or the court decides when the children
will live with each parent. Usually, there is a regular schedule and then
a holiday and vacation schedule. Weekly schedules vary widely, depending
on the ages of the children, what each parent's involvement has been
with the children, and where the parents live in relation to each other
and the children's schools, as well as a variety of other factors.
In general, a decision is made about when the children will be with each
parent during the school year, and then time is set aside for each parent
during school breaks, Federal holidays, and summer vacation, and other
times that may be important in your family.
Regardless of whether your custodial arrangements are decided by the court
or between the parents, issues relating to the children (legal and physical
custody, time-sharing and/or child support) may be reviewed and modified
by the court until your child is emancipated. This is because the court
must always act in the best interests of the child, and those interests
may change over time.
Get Help from Our Fairfax Child Custody Attorneys
At ShounBach, our firm has practiced nothing but
family law for over 40 years. Each divorce lawyer from our firm will take the time
to get to know your case in detail and guide you through a difficult process
every step of the way.