Before a divorce or other legal action involving a court custody order, parents are granted equal rights to the physical custody of the child. Only a court order can change that dynamic. The law in Virginia has long held that parents be treated equally, meaning that there is no automatic preference granted to mothers or fathers. Judges are instructed to make these decisions based on the best interests of the child. For most children, that means regular contact with both parents. The courts consider many factors in making these decisions. A recent law provides one additional consideration judges must weigh.
Sole Custody Or Joint Custody
The Governor recently signed a bill that requires judges to consider joint custody as well as sole custody when making the determination during a divorce proceeding. The bill's supporters said that joint custody was not always granted consideration prior to the passage of this bill. One of the supporters of the law said it could also encourage parents to consider every option in trying to reach a custody agreement on their own.
Child custody is often an area of contention in divorce proceedings. Co-parenting, as is required in joint custody arrangements, can seem daunting if the split is acrimonious. Difficulty communicating is often an issue when couples split. That lack of communication may lead some people to ignore joint custody and pursue only sole custody as a solution. Judges will no longer be able to ignore joint custody, even if the parties involved show little interest.
Ideally, everyone involved in a child custody determination will remain focused on doing what is best for the children. That is the focus of the court, and divorcing couples will get better results if they remember this fact.