Virginia Divorce Custody
Uniform Child Custody Act of Virginia was adopted in 1979. According to Virginia divorce custody laws, the best interests of the child must not be compromised and the courts ensure that the safety and welfare of the child must be kept in mind while awarding custody. The following guidelines are considered while awarding child custody:
- Courts in Virginia first try to ask the divorced parents to settle the custody matter among them and consequently get legal approval. If they fail to reach an agreement, then VA child custody guidelines specify that the custody of the child is awarded to the parent who meets the emotional and psychological needs of the child. Courts try to determine which parent bonds the most with the child wile determining custody decisions.
- Child custody guidelines in Virginia are not gender or race biased. Both the parents have equal chances of getting the custody of the child.
- Judges handling Virginia divorce custody cases may ask a child of sixteen years and above to provide his/her parental preference. However, the final ruling of the case may not be in complete approval of what the child had expressed because judges consider all related matters while awarding the custody. In Virginia, a child of 16 years and above is authorized to file a petition in the court of laws seeking change of custody.
- Grandparent’s rights include visitation rights in the state of Virginia. Custody rights are rarely given to the grandparents unless the parents are found to be totally unfit and incapable of raising the child.
- Joint custody option (20-124.2 of VA Statutes) is generally preferred while awarding final custody, if both the parents exhibit positive cooperation in terms of child care. If judges find that a parent is attempting to alienate the child from the other parent, then many custody rights of that parent may be forfeited.
- While awarding custody, child custody guidelines in Virginia specify that the parent who gets the custody must be mentally and physically capable of raising the child.
- Records of physical violence or child neglect or child abuse or domestic violence in the family are verified by the court. If any parent is found to be an offender then he/she will not get the custody of the child. Supervised visitation rights may be awarded to the child to ensure welfare of the latter. If the presence of the “offender” parent is found detrimental to the child, then visitation rights may be forfeited, though the parent may be asked to provide child support. However, this parent has access to the records and documents of the child.
- VA child support laws have made “income shares model” as a mandatory mechanism to arrive at the child support figure. The net incomes of the parents are pooled together to arrive at a figure that meets the financial needs of the child.