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Understanding Child Custody In Virginia

A determination of custody involves two different decisions: legal custody and physical custody.The parent with legal custody has primary decision-making power about the child’s education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and other facets of the child’s life. Physical custody involves determining who the child is physically with on a day to day basis.

If you have questions or concerns regarding child custody in Virginia, we can help. To speak with an experienced and dedicated child custody attorney at Lee Lopez Law PLLC, please call us in Arlington at 703-259-8731 or complete our contact form. We advise and represent clients throughout Northern Virginia.

Determining Legal And Physical Custody

Generally for legal custody, courts can award joint legal custody, which means that the parents have to agree on a specific course of action before a child can become involved; or sole legal custody to one parent or the other, meaning that parent has the legal authority to make these decisions. Sometimes a court will grant one parent final decision-making authority on a topic, meaning he or she will need to communicate with the other parent and try to agree on a course of action, but if no agreement can be made, that parent can make the decisions.

Physical custody, in contrast, deals with the child’s physical location on a day-to-day basis. Courts must consider the best interests of the child and each parent’s relationship with the child when deciding how physical custody should be divided. Courts can order physical custody to be split evenly or limit one parent’s access to the child depending on the circumstances of the parent-child relationship.

While these decisions are very important and are often difficult for the parents involved, the good news is that Virginia law focuses these inquiries on the best interests of the child. Additionally, as long as a child has not emancipated from the parents, custody can be modified based on a material change in circumstances since the entry of the last order.

Contact Us Today

If you’re facing an initial custody determination or a modification of the current custodial arrangement, contact the experienced attorneys at Lee Lopez Law PLLC to help you understand and resolve your legal issues. We can be reached in Arlington at 703-259-8731, or you can fill out our contact form. We advise and represent parents throughout Northern Virginia.