Child custody is an important family law topic and can be related to divorces, separations, and paternity cases. When the custody of a child is determined a court must look at how best to serve that child’s needs. For different children, custody outcomes can be very different and for this reason individuals should not rely on the information contained in this post as legal advice.

Generally, however, child custody in Virginia is either shared jointly by the parents or held solely by one parent. Aside from whether it is shared or separate, custody also is made up of two different sets of parental responsibilities – legal custody and physical custody. The remainder of this post will help clarify these terms.

Legal custody concerns the power of a parent to make important decisions about their child’s upbringing. Without legal custody a parent may not have a say in where their child is educated or if their child is subjected to medical care. Though different cases can have different outcomes, parents often share legal custody in a joint arrangement when they end their relationships.

Physical custody concerns the power of a parent to have their child live with them. Securing joint physical custody can be complicated as parents and kids can have divergent schedules. Other factors such as distance can also impede the successful execution of a joint physical custody arrangement.

If a parent cannot provide the necessary support for their child or poses a threat to their child, they may be denied custodial rights. In such a situation the other parent may be granted sole custody and the denied parent may seek visitation with their child. A multitude of unique factors can change how courts decide child custody cases in Virginia and those readers with concerns about the topic can discuss their questions with their family law attorneys.