Children are often the most important issue during a divorce. In Virginia, there are a variety of laws and regulations regarding custody of a child. Like most issues in family law, choosing the right attorney will provide a better outcome.
Child custody is determined based on what is in the best interest of the child. Although most parents want what's right for their children, sometimes this can become difficult when emotions run high. One parent may wish to punish the other by having full custody. Sometimes there is a financial benefit to the equation. Due to this, the court will examine each unique case to determine what is going to be best for the child.
What Is Child Custody?
Child custody in Virginia consists of two categories: legal custody and physical custody. Parents can have either type of custody:
Legal custody: This is the right to make choices on behalf of the child's best interest. These choices can involve health, education, and religion.
Physical custody: This is where the child spends most of their time, or essentially, where the child primarily resides.
Both legal and physical custody can be sole custody or joint custody depending on what is best for the child. Sole legal custody means only one parent can make decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing. Joint legal custody means both parents are involved in the decision-making process for the child’s well-being.
On the other hand, sole physical custody means the child lives with one parent. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will typically receive visitation time. Joint legal custody means the child lives with both parents.
How Does a Judge Decide Who Gets Custody?
There are a number of factors that a court considers when determining child custody. For the best interest of the child, there are several concerns a judge must address.
The judge will want to know about the following:
What is the age and mental state of the child? Depending on how independent and aware the child is, one parent may be chosen over the other. Appropriate developmental needs will be taken into consideration upon a child custody hearing.
Are both parents mentally and physically fit to take care of the child? In addition to understanding a child's development, a parent must be healthy and able to provide adequate care.
What is the relationship between each parent and their child? A child may relate better to one parent or the other. One parent may also understand the needs of the child better than the other.
Do both parents support the relationship their child has with the other parent? Assuming both parents are adequate and healthy, understanding the ability of each parent to honor the child's relationship with the other is important for healthy development.
Does the child have siblings? Depending on the situation of other children in the home, siblings may be taken into consideration when a judge determines a child custody case. This also extends to non-immediate family members as well.
Is there a history of sexual or physical abuse within the family? A child's safety is the number one priority during any child custody hearing in Virginia. Understanding family dynamics and any possible abuse is crucial.
Does the child have a preference? Many judges will take a child's opinion into serious consideration when determining who receives sole or even partial child custody. However, the child must be old enough and mature enough to state their opinion.
A Virginia Beach Attorney Can Help
To better understand child custody cases in Virginia, hiring an experienced family law attorney is imperative. For more information about child custody matters in Virginia Beach, don't hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller. Our dedicated family law attorney is here to protect you and your family’s rights during this difficult time.
Call the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller today at (757) 517-2942 for legal assistance with your child custody issue.