Child Custody And Visitation
Custody and visitation can often be the most difficult issue to resolve as parents separate/divorce. Our firm works with its clients to devise and implement a plan which will be in the best interests of the children, while still promoting the parents’ ability to maintain a relationship with the children, including frequent and substantial time with them.
Additionally, until the children are emancipated, custody and visitation remain subject to review and modification under Virginia and Maryland law to ensure that parenting arrangements continue to serve the children’s best interests. In all cases, the paramount consideration is the best interests of the children, not the parents.
Of course, where the best interests of the children would be impaired by spending time with a parent who, for a variety of reasons, would not provide appropriate parenting, then our firm assists its clients in adjusting the custody plan toward the better parent. These issues are often emotional and can have a lasting impact on the permanent relationship between parent and child. It is therefore important that an attorney be chosen that is aggressive, sensitive, and effective.
Legal Vs. Physical Child Custody
The law makes a distinction between two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody means the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education, religion, medical care and upbringing. Physical custody means the legal right to maintain physical control over the child. Both legal and physical custody may be awarded solely to one parent or jointly.
Children can reside primarily with one parent while the other parent has visiting time (visitation), or parents can share physical custody of their children so the kids live half their time with each parent. Legal custody can also be solely or jointly awarded. Legal custody deals with major decisions affecting the children’s lives such as health and education.
Joint legal custody gives parents joint responsibility for care and decision-making, even if the children reside primarily with only one parent. Communication and cooperation between the parents are some of the major considerations when courts decide whether to award sole or joint legal custody.
There is also split custody, which refers to the situation where two or more siblings are subject to different custody arrangements. It is not the same thing as joint custody. An example of split custody would be the situation where one child lives with the father, while the other child lives with the mother. Courts tend to discourage split custody arrangements, although such awards can and have been made if it can be shown that splitting the children up will be in their best interests. It is more likely to be awarded when the children themselves have expressed a preference for it and they are old enough for their preferences to be taken into consideration.
Courts have the power to order any combination of sole, split, joint legal and physical custody that is deemed to be in a particular child’s best interests. There is no presumption or inference in law favoring either parent as the custodial parent. In custody determinations, the court is required by law to give due regard to the primary importance of the parent-child relationship, but it may, in appropriate cases, award custody or visitation to third persons, such as grandparents or family members.
The court is required by statute to assure minor children frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and to encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. In making custody and visitation determinations, Virginia and Maryland courts are required to consider the factors enumerated in statute for the best interests of children.
Contact The Law Offices Of Mariam Ebrahimi PLLC
To speak with a Loudoun divorce attorney about divorce, custody, child support, alimony or domestic violence, please contact us online or call 571-418-0324.