Although divorce can generally be highly emotional, the one issue that typically evokes the strongest feelings is custody. Whether or not the parents were married, parties often struggle with the idea of dividing parenting time with their ex and insist on sole custody. However, while sole custody is awarded in some cases, the majority of custody cases result in some sort of shared custody arrangement, so it is best for parties to have realistic expectations.
Under Virginia law, custody is decided using ten factors to determine the "Best Interests of the Child." Therefore, the focus is on the interests of the child(ren) and not the parents in any custody matter. The court considers, among other things, evidence of each parent's relationship with the child and the role he/she has played and is willing to continue to play in the child's upbringing and development, the propensity of each parent to encourage the child's relationship with the other parent and any history of family abuse. Once the issue is placed before the court for a decision, the parties will be bound by the judge's decision. Therefore, it is often advisable for the parties to negotiate a custody agreement that is tailored to their family's needs. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
If you need advice regarding custody, contact our office to schedule a consultation.