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What are Virginia's custody laws?

Custody laws vary in every state, but they are extremely similar. That's thanks in part to the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which is designed to make custody decisions hold up between states. For example, if a mother wins custody in Florida, the father can't take the children to Alabama and expect a change in the custody arrangement just because of traveling to a new state.

Virginia adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act in 1979. It recognizes a right to joint custody, which helps parents get equal or equitable time with their children. Since many judges want to see children raised by both parents, joint custody rights encourage parents to participate fully in their children's lives.

Virginian law does allow for a child's wishes to be considered when he or she is part of a divorce or separation. For example, if a teenager comes to court and states that he or she wants to live with his or her father, the court may consider the child's wishes and grant custody to the father if there is a good reason to do so. Likewise, if a young child wants to go with his or her mother, the court may support that request. The court considers many factors before deciding if what the child wants is actually what the child needs in the situation.

Virginia is also one of several states that recognizes the need for grandparents' visitation rights. Grandparents who don't want to miss out of their grandchildren's lives can petition the court in hopes of obtaining custody or visitation rights of their own.

Source: FindLaw, "Virginia Child Custody Laws," accessed Dec. 11, 2017

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