Child Custody

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 mediation or 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 stressful time.

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 parent's care.

Legal Custody

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.

Physical Custody

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.

Contact a Northern Virginia child custody lawyer from our firm to learn how we can help you.