Some aspects of the American legal system are evergreen, in the sense that they change very little over time. Other aspects, like child custody guidelines, expectations and determinations, have absolutely evolved to meet the changing needs of families and minors. In fact, for couples in Virginia and the rest of the country, a very different type of child custody arrangement is beginning to come about as society begins to adapt to new parenting realities.
Historically, child custody was fairly simple. Case in point: In Colonial America, a divorced father obtained custody of his offspring, no questions asked. It didn't matter if the mother of the children was deemed "good" or "bad"; she was not considered to be able to take care of her youngsters the way her ex-husband could. By the Industrial Revolution, this pendulum had begun to swing the other way, and in the early 1900s, women were regarded as more proficient caretakers than men. Hence, they were almost always given custody in divorce situations.
Fast forward to the end of the 1900s, and much had changed. By the time the 20th century was winding down, the idea of joint custody was often practiced, when applicable. In joint custody situations, both parents share the custodial duties of their offspring. Additionally, fathers began to gain traction in getting the sympathy of the courts when considering custody issues.
Today, this leaves divorcing parties in Virginia with a host of possibilities when it comes to the best interests of their children. Thus, it's not at all uncommon for the husband and wife who are dissolving their marriage to create a thorough child custody plan for each child, depending upon his or her age, stage and needs. Though such an arrangement takes time upfront, it anticipates problems down the road and can pave the way for better relationships post-divorce.
Source: The Washington Post, "There's a great way to figure out child custody. Most divorce courts don't use it.", J. Herbie DiFonzo, Nov. 14, 2014