Virginia divorce is never easy for a family, especially when there are children involved. Not only do parents need to address concerns, such as property division and alimony, but also must determine both child support and child custody. In order to determine what the best course of action is for your child or children, it is important to understand the different forms of child custody available and how child custody is determined in the courts.
Child custody comes in two forms -- joint legal custody and sole-custody. Joint custody allows both parents equal decision making powers with regards to the child or children's welfare and upbringing. If one parent is considered unfit or unable to properly care for his or her child, the other parent may fight for sole-custody of the child or children.
Custody is generally determined by the parents together, but if an agreement cannot be reached, the situation moves to the courts, where many considerations are made. It is important to realize that the primary objective and goal of the courts is to make a determination and decision that is in the best interest of the child or children.
Typically the parent who is considered the "primary caretaker" will be the preferred parent to receive custody. However other factors are also considered, including but not limited to the child's preference, the
Custody is not always limited to the parents. If the courts determine that neither parent is fit or lacks parental responsibility, custody may be awarded to the grandparents or occasionally relatives or close friends of the family.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Custody Considerations: Step by Step," accessed on March 17, 2015