In the state of Virginia, the best interest of any children involved in a divorce is placed as the centerpiece of all child custody matters. If the parents cannot come up with a custody arrangement, then the court determines what type of custody arrangement will be used. The best interest will be the primary factor evaluated.

Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

Physical custody is when a parent has the right to have the child live with him or her. The parent who has physical custody will be responsible for making the everyday decisions for the child and caring for his or her daily needs. Joint physical custody is often awarded when both parents live in close proximity to one another. If sole physical custody is granted, the other parent will likely have visitation or parenting time with the child.

Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make major life decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. Some of the decisions that need to be made include:

  • Religious upbringing
  • Schooling
  • Medical care

Courts will regularly award joint legal custody, where the decision making must be shared by both parents.

Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

Courts may award sole or joint legal custody to one or both parents. Sole custody is not very common unless one party has alcohol or drug dependencies, has a criminal record of child abuse, or is otherwise deemed unfit.

Joint custody is the favored arrangements among courts. When parents share joint custody, they typically work out a schedule based on their work requirements, housing arrangements, and the children’s needs. If the parents are unable to agree on a schedule, the court will enforce an arrangement.

If you need assistance with your child custody case, contact our Virginia Beach attorney at the David McCormick Law Group.