The decision of who will have custody of a child following a divorce or separation can be one of the most difficult for both parents. In Virginia, courts base the decision on many factors. But does Virginia favor mothers when making this critical decision? It’s a common misconception that mothers are favored, but the truth is that Virginia courts strive to make decisions with the child’s best interests in mind. We’ll take a closer look at the factors considered when Virginia courts determine how to award custody.
Are Mothers in Virginia Awarded Child Custody More Often?
The notion that mothers receive child custody more often than fathers is far less correct than it used to be. In the past, it was true that mothers were awarded primary or sole custody in a majority of cases. This was because they typically played a more traditional role within the household. However, this is no longer the case, as many mothers work while many fathers stay home. Judges in Virginia are not supposed to be biased toward awarding mothers with custody. Instead, the law says they focus solely on what is in the child’s best interests. Ultimately, both parents have an equal chance at getting custody of their children, so long as they can prove that they can provide a safe and healthy environment.
Types of Custody
The court may award three different types of custody: legal custody, physical custody, and joint custody. Legal custody allows a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and other important aspects of their life. Physical custody is where the child physically resides. Joint custody involves both parents sharing in the decision-making for the child and having equal access to the child.
In Virginia, the court will consider what’s best for the child when determining who should have primary physical custody. The court may award joint custody, but this is not always the case. In situations where the court awards joint legal and physical custody, the court will typically set up a parenting plan outlining visitation times and each parent’s responsibilities regarding raising the child.
What Factors Are Considered During Custody Proceedings?
The court will consider many factors when determining the best arrangement for the child, including:
- The child’s age, physical health, and mental health
- Each parent’s age, physical health, and mental health
- The two parents’ current relationship and whether or not they are willing to work together as part of the custody arrangement
- Each parent’s relationship with the child and what influence the parent would have on the child
- The child’s specific needs
- Each parent’s ability to raise the child
- Each parent’s role in their child’s life and the role they will play in the future in raising the child
- Any sexual or domestic abuse in the family home while the parents were together
- Whether either parent lives with someone else
In some cases, the court may also consider the child’s preference, depending upon their age and other factors. However, regardless of any stated preference, the judge’s final decision should always put the child’s best interests first.
Speak With an Experienced Virginia Child Custody Lawyer
Divorces are some of the most challenging times in people’s lives, and they can be even more complicated when children are involved. At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., our experienced child custody attorneys understand the sensitive nature of child custody cases. Our attorneys will provide you with comprehensive and compassionate legal services. We are dedicated to helping our clients reach an amicable resolution to their child custody disputes. Contact a Virginia child custody lawyer for an initial legal consultation.