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  • Published: December 1, 2022

Understanding The Child Custody Process

Custody Throughout Virginia Divorce Proceedings

Before any court makes a decision about custody and visitation, both parents have an equal say in what happens with their child. No one parent has more rights to the child than the other, if and until a court makes a final decision. If desired, either parent can file for custody and visitation at the juvenile court before filing for divorce.

When parents file for divorce, they may have to deal with child custody and visitation issues in circuit court. A Pendente Lite hearing is a temporary hearing where the parents can ask the court to put a temporary custody plan in place. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be the final custody arrangement.

Child Support Throughout Virginia Divorce Proceedings

The amount of child support paid will be decided based on the custody and visitation schedule for the child. If the father has primary physical custody and the parents share joint legal custody, then the mother will be responsible for paying child support. However, if the mother has primary physical custody, then the father will be required to pay child support.

If the parents are splitting custody evenly, then whoever makes more money will likely be responsible for paying child support to the other parent. Yet, if one parent has primary physical custody, then the other parent may be the one required to pay child support, even if they make less money than the custodial parent.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be dependent on the unique case at hand.

How Custody Is Determined

Custody is often thought of as simply residing with one parent or the other, but there are many factors the court must consider when making a determination. According to Virginia Code Section 20-124.3, there are ten primary factors, with one of the main focuses being on a parent’s ability to facilitate a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent.

Your Child’s Input On Custody Arrangements

A child can never fully decide the custody arrangement. The child’s desire is one of the ten factors a court looks at once they are of an age where intelligence and their mental capacity will allow them to give their input, (this is usually around 12-13), but they do not ultimately decide.

In many cases, the child has a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who represents the child’s best interests and investigates the matter, including interviewing the parents and viewing both homes. They will present their findings to the court and argue what they believe is in the child’s best interest. The judge will then consider this evidence along with all the other evidence in the case to make a decision.

How To Get The Most Favorable Custody Arrangement

If you are divorcing and have children, it is important to be reasonable about visitation and try to come to an agreement with the other parent about spending time with the child. I tell people who are going through a divorce to keep a notebook and write down what happens every day. This way, you will have a record of what is happening, especially regarding the children, and can show it to a judge if necessary.

For more information on Divorce Law In Virginia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (804) 207-9381 today.

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