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Will a Virginia judge grant one parent sole custody?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2023 | Family Law

The challenges involved in divorce proceedings are different depending on a family’s unique circumstances. Those with children often worry more about custody and parenting matters than they do about property division, for example. Parents don’t want to end up alienated from their children or face a lengthy separation from them.

People may worry about the other parent in their family requesting sole custody and preventing them from having a relationship with their children. Is it realistic for adults in Virginia to worry about a judge giving the other parent sole custody of their shared children?

Sole custody is an uncommon outcome

Even though tragic tales of parents alienated from their children are very compelling, they are not that common. Typically, a judge in Virginia must try to do what would be best for the children when making decisions about contested custody matters. A judge has the authority to divide both physical custody or time with the children and legal custody or authority to make decisions about them. Exactly how they organize that split will depend on the family circumstances. A judge will typically try to set terms that they believe would be in the best interests of the children in the family.

Judges want both parents to spend time with children, contribute toward their maintenance and influence their upbringing, as such arrangements are usually what will work best for the children. If either parent wants the judge to grant them sole custody while denying the other parent time with the children or control over their lives, the parent asking for sole custody will need a very strong reason to make that request.

What justifies sole custody requests?

A parent trying to deprive a child of a healthy relationship with the other adults in their life might make a negative impression on the court unless they have a good reason for making such a request. Possible justifications that would lead to a judge agreeing sole custody is best for the children include:

  • issues with addiction
  • a history of abuse
  • challenges with personal instability
  • mental or physical health issues

The parent asking for sole custody will usually need some proof that supports their claim that the other parents cannot meet the needs of the children.

Without having a reason for concern about the children’s safety and evidence validating that concern, a parent asking for sole custody will likely have a hard time convincing a judge to rule in their favor. Learning more about what influences the outcome of contested Virginia custody matters may help people understand what to expect and how to more effectively develop their position when navigating the custody determination process.