Child custody cases are never easy for all the concerned parties. However, the paramount factor, which is used in determining the custody of the child is the best interest of the child. Hence, the court looks into multiple factors before reaching any conclusion. In a child custody case, there are two types of custody, legal custody of the child and the physical custody of the child. If you are aiming for the sole custody of your child you are required to get both – physical and legal custody from the court. Even in such cases where the court allows sole custody to one parent, the other parent is often granted visitation rights from the judges.
According to the child custody laws in Virginia, the custody of your child is defined as the legal and physical responsibility of your minor child who is below 18 years of age. This responsibility includes all the major decision making, such as schooling of the child, providing him proper health care services, and making sure all the religious teachings are provided to the child. Normally, the court allows joint custody or divided custody to ensure that the child has a healthy relationship with both of his/her parents. However, in rare circumstances, the court even allows other custodial rights to the parents, such as Shared custody, split custody or sole custody.
If any parent is awarded the sole custody of their child, it means that they are both – physical and legal guardian of their child. The court allows the custodial parent to take all the major life decisions of their minor child, however, the non-custodial parent is often awarded visitation rights.
Visitation rights are only canceled, in case, if the non-custodial parent is either involved in abusive behavior, unethical or criminal charges, or he/she is medically unfit. Otherwise, the non-custodial parent is awarded visitation rights by the court. In case there is no court order, the parent looking forward to sole custody needs to file a petition. You can file this petition in the court near you and your child’s resident. In case there is a court order, the parent looking for sole custody needs to file a motion to amend the order to the court that initially issued the custodial order. After the petition, an initial hearing session is conducted, which is followed by a detailed evaluation of both the parties.
There are plenty of aspects, which impact the final decision of the court, as the court accounts for the factors that are in the child’s best interest. The long list of factors includes the physical and mental health of both the parents, their relationship with their child, the character of the parents including, drugs addiction or any presence of criminal offense, the financial status of the parents and the preferences of the child. The most common reasons accepted by the law for allotting complete sole custody to any one parent is the involvement of the other partner in any illegal or unethical activity or if he/she is victimizing the other parents in domestic abuse. It is important for the parent requesting sole custody, to acknowledge that once he/she is awarded the sole custody of the child, he/she will not be allowed to relocate from Virginia