Divorce is a difficult situation that takes a toll on everyone involved, both financially and emotionally. Even more is at stake when custody of children becomes part of the equation. Parents often need an attorney to fight for their rights, as well as that of any children involved.
Top 5 Custody Questions
Family law attorneys in Virginia should know every nuance of how a divorce case may impact custody. According to the American Bar Association, five key questions top the list in the legal area known as “family law” when children are involved:
- How do courts decide who gets custody?
- What is joint custody?
- How is child support determined?
- What happens if a parent does not pay child support?
- Do grandparents have visitation rights?
In Virginia, as in every U.S. state, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. No specific factor or situation causes the court to rule in favor of one parent over the other in custody cases. Legally, neither the father nor the mother is more likely to be favored in a child custody battle, for example. Considerations that do come into play, may include:
- The child’s age, sex and level of development
- Emotional attachment of the child to a parent
- Ability of the child to adjust at home or school
- The child’s preference if they are old enough to make legal decisions (usually 12-14)
- Level of involvement by parent in raising the child
- Physical, emotional and financial stability of each parent
- Willingness to cooperate
- Location of parents residence
- History of child abuse or domestic violence
Parents in a divorce case may opt for sole custody or joint custody of a child. Joint child custody means both parents share decisions affecting the children (school, health care, religious training, rules for discipline, etc.). It also refers to physical custody, meaning the child spends a comparable amount of time with each parent. This may involve splitting living arrangements equally or on a set visitation schedule. It may also involve grandparents or other family members if they play an important role in child care.
Child custody issues can also revolve around finances, such as child support to make sure parents provide for the basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and education. Other questions of child custody may involve traveling out of state with the child, granting custody if parents are not legally married, or attempting to change a child’s surname.
Family Law Attorneys Protect Children’s Interests
Child custody can be complicated and overwhelming without proper guidance from an experienced family law attorney in Virginia. Protect your parental rights by consulting with Gloucester child custody attorneys at Martin, Ingles & Hensley at (804) 693-2500 to make an appointment.