There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which custody schedule is best for a child, but this article will give you some guidelines to help you make a choice that considers your children’s best interests.
Types of Child Custody in Virginia
Child custody has two components in Virginia:
- Legal custody: This custody involves the decision-making component of child-rearing, including schooling, medical treatments and philosophies, and religion. Ideally, both parents will have input into these decisions, but one parent may have more clout.
- Physical custody: As the term suggests, physical custody is the determination of which parent the child will live with. Physical custody is often shared between parents, depending on their agreement or court order.
Factors That Determine Custody
In a perfect world, both parents will agree on a reasonable custody schedule that accommodates the child’s needs and is sustainable for the parents. However, when parents are unable to find common ground, a Virginia judge will determine a custody schedule based on an overall assessment of the following factors:
- Age of the child
- The child’s mental and physical needs
- Each parent’s age, mental, and physical conditions
- Relationships the child has with friends and other family members
- How custody affects the child’s extracurricular activities
- The involvement of each parent in raising the child
- Reasonableness of each parent
- Evidence of abuse
- The child’s preferences
- Other factors
The court will determine an appropriate custody schedule based on a balance of these factors, looking at the situation as a whole.
Changing the Physical Custody Arrangement
As children get older or a parent’s circumstances change, it may be necessary to modify a custody schedule. It’s recommended that any custody arrangement includes provisions that specify when and how changes to the schedule can be made.
Again, these decisions should be focused on the child’s needs and best interests. For example, if one parent is moving across the state or country, there will likely need to be an adjustment to the schedule if both parents previously lived near each other.
Common Custody Schedules in Virginia
Many parents aim to achieve an equal 50/50 schedule of parenting time when circumstances and schedules allow.
- Alternating weeks: One parent has the kids one week, and the other parent has the kids the next.
- 2-2-3 schedules: Parents have alternating three-day weekends and time with the kids during the week.
- Every other weekend: When parenting time is not split equally, the non-custodial parent will often have visitation rights on alternating weekends.
- Other custody arrangements: Custom schedules are also common when one or more parents has a work schedule that is different than a traditional Monday through Friday 9-to-5 or parents live in different cities or states.
Ultimately, custody arrangements should be tailored to the best interests of the children as long as the parents are able to maintain the arrangement civilly and practically.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
At DiPietro Law Group, we understand how sensitive matters of child custody can be in a divorce, and our attorneys provide qualified legal representation to help protect your rights. To schedule a consultation, call us at (888) 530-4374.