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How does Virginia determine custody after divorce?

| Mar 12, 2021 | Divorce |

When parents divorce in Virginia, they must decide how to share physical custody of their children. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, they can ask the family court to decide during their divorce hearing.

Review the common considerations for families facing custody decisions in Virginia.

Best interest factors

The judge will review the evidence provided by both parents and make a decision on custody based on the child’s best interests. Factors that influence the best interest determination in Virginia include:

  • Any history of abuse by either parent
  • The child’s preference depending on age and maturity
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate with one another about parenting issues
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a close relationship with the child as well as between the child and the other parent
  • How each parent has historically contributed to the child’s care
  • The child’s current relationship with other family members and siblings
  • The age, physical health, and mental health of each parent and child in the family

The court can also look at any other factors the judge finds relevant.

Components of the parenting plan

State law requires the parenting agreement to maintain continuing and frequent visitation with both parents, even when one has primary physical custody. To that end, the parenting plan must include a detailed visitation schedule with information about sharing holidays, birthdays and travel responsibilities. In rare cases, the court may order supervised visits if necessary to protect the child’s health and welfare.

Communicating closely with your spouse can help you reach a custody agreement that works for your family.