Custody And Visitation
Handling custody and visitation are what we at the Law Office of Deborah N. Arthur consider our most important and concerning area of law. The care of children and their best interests is at the heart of our practice. We believe that serving the interests of parents and their children serves our community and society in general. Children are the future of our world.
In considering children’s custody, the courts rule on both legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives one or both parents the authority to make decisions concerning the children such as schooling, medical, and other important areas of their life. Physical custody gives one or both parents the decisions of where the children live and the daily routine of the children.
Both physical and legal custody can be sole, joint, shared, or split, either by agreement or court determination. Sole legal and physical custody occurs when one parent retains full responsibility for the care and control of a child and has the authority to make all decisions concerning the child. Joint legal custody gives both parents authority to make decisions concerning the child. Joint physical custody allows both parents to share physical and custodial care of the child. Shared physical custody occurs when both parents have physical custody of the child for at least 90 days each. In split custody, one parent has physical custody of one or more of the children and the other parent also has physical custody of one or more of the other children, basically splitting the children in a family between the parents, such as in the movie “The Parent Trap.”
When a court determines custody and visitation, the paramount consideration of the court is the “best interest of the child.” In doing so, the court must consider various statutory factors, including, but not limited to, (1) the relationship between each parent and child; (2) the role each parent has played in the child’s care; (3) the ability of a parent to support contact with the other parent; (4) the ability of the parents to work together for the best interest of the child; and other factors.
Grandparents, stepparents and other related parties may also have rights of visitation and/or custody under certain circumstances such as voluntary relinquishment by a parent of custody, unfitness of a parent, and other special and unique circumstances.
In cases of deployment of a parent, there are now considerations to protect the deploying parent and their family under the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act.