If you have gotten a divorce or split up from your unmarried partner in Virginia and have kids, you will want to fight for child custody. When your children are minors, custody and visitation are determined by a judge. Often, mediation is used when you’re able to come to an agreement with the other parent, but if you can’t agree, you can go to court.
How does the court determine custody?
First and foremost, the court considers what’s in the best interests of the child when determining child custody. One parent may be awarded sole custody. The court can decide to award joint legal or joint physical custody as well. In most cases, courts run on the belief that the child best benefits from continuing to have a relationship with both parents. As such, both parents are encouraged to share the responsibility of raising the child.
In addition to child custody, there is also the matter of visitation. The court often refers to “visitation” as “parenting time.” Grandparents are also taken into consideration if one or both of the natural or adoptive parents of the child are incapacitated or deceased.
How are child support orders made?
The court will also order child support to be paid to one of the parents. If either party makes a request of support payments being made to a special needs trust or ABLE savings trust account for the child, the court will issue it as an order. The court can decide that support payments continue to be paid for a child over 18 who is either still a full-time high school student, not supporting themselves or still living at home until they reach age 19. If the child is severely, permanently mentally or physically disabled, child support payments may be ordered to continue as well.