When parents of young children decide to get divorced, they may need to seek a custody determination in court. In Virginia, parents may reach agreements about custody on their own, get help from a mediator, use a collaborative process or litigate the issues through the court process.
In custody cases, one parent may be awarded residential custody while the other may be granted visitation. In addition to the residential custody determination, people will also need to decide how the decision-making responsibilities will be handled. Some parents are able to come to amicable agreements in which they share custody as well as decision-making. In other cases, arriving at an agreement may be more difficult.
Parents who are having trouble negotiating custody agreements on their own may be able to go through the mediation process or a collaborative divorce in order to reach an agreement. Some cases may not be appropriate for mediation or a collaborative process, however. Cases in which there is a history of domestic violence, abuse or substance abuse problems may not be appropriate for these forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Couples who are getting divorced and who have young children might want to have the assistance of their respective family law attorneys. In many cases, the attorneys may be able to help their clients to negotiate full agreements for custody and visitation and property division. In cases involving histories of violence or drug abuse, the attorneys may want to go to court and argue that allowing that particular parent to have access would not be in the best interests of the child.