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Does Virginia require shared custody?

Many states now believe that sharing parenting time and rights is a good idea for divorcing couples. There's data to suggest that children do better when their parents are both equally in their lives. Additionally, it takes the stress off a single parent and shares responsibilities between them.

Virginia is not like those other states. Presently, shared custody or shared parenting statutes have not passed in the state. That means that the courts don't need to push for shared parenting, even though it could be what's better for a child.

Studies have shown that shared custody is what's best for kids in most situations. Of course, it's not for children who are victims of abuse or for those who would end up living with a dangerous or absent parent.

Those aren't the cases a potential bill would address, though. Instead, it would encourage shared custody among most normal of families, aiming to keep both parents in their children's lives.

House Bill 1351 is one to watch. It has been backed by The Family Foundation, family law attorneys across the state, The National Parents Organization and the Children's Rights Council. The bill is straightforward. It asks the courts to consider if joint physical and legal custody is in the best interests of the child in every case. If so, the court is instructed to try to make that arrangement happen.

There is no mandate for a 50-50 split of a child's time, but having more time with either parent is a benefit. Keep your eye on this bill, since it could affect your case in the future.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Christian Paasch column: Virginia's opportunity: shared parenting," Christian Paasch, accessed Feb. 23, 2018

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