The visitation schedule that works best for a particular family can vary greatly depending on a range of factors from legal to logistic. We can help you weigh all of these factors and determine the best visitation schedule for your children, including exploration of all of your options for reaching a resolution including negotiation, mediation, or litigation and a trial.

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In Virginia, the term custody can refer to both legal and physical custody.

Legal custody is the right to make important decisions regarding your children. These decisions range from medical issues, educational issues, religious instruction, to international travel or participation in extracurricular activities. There are two types of legal custody recognized in Virginia, joint legal custody and sole legal custody. Joint legal custody is when both parents have equal authority to make the important decisions that affect the children. Joint legal custody is most commonly awarded by the court because judges recognize the important role that each parent can play in making decisions that effect a child’s well-being. However, there are some circumstances, such as when one parent has abused the other or one parent has severe mental health issues, where a court may choose to award one parent sole legal custody. Sole legal custody is when one parent is given the authority to make all the legal decisions that affect the child. However, sole legal custody is not a termination of the other party’s parental rights, and a parent who does not have legal custody is typically still given access to information regarding the children’s education, health and well-being.

Physical custody refers to when and with whom the children reside. Custodial schedules differ greatly depending on each family’s unique situation. Typically, a family has a regular weekly schedule and a holiday schedule. Parties can agree to a custodial schedule, or if the parties are unable to agree, either party can petition the court to determine the custodial schedule. The court has numerous factors that it must consider when determining the best custodial arrangement for the children, including but not limited to the children’s ages, physical and mental health, the children’s bond with each parent, where the children attend school, where the parents residence, and the ability of each parent to meet the children’s needs. All these factors are geared towards helping the court determine what is in the children’s best interests.

The court also has the authority to modify custody, either the custodial schedule or the legal custodial status, if there has been a material change and it is in the children’s best interest that custody be modified.

Families typically have a regular visitation schedule and a separate schedule for holidays and vacations. The visitation schedule that works best for a particular family can vary greatly depending on a range of factors. In Virginia, the Court must consider the factors set forth in Va. Code 20-124.3 when determining the best visitation schedule for children. All of these factors aid the Court in determining the visitation schedule that is best suited for the children. However, in addition to those factors there are numerous logistical factors that a parent must take into account when determining the best proposed schedule for visitation, including but not limited to each parent’s employment and work schedule, where each parent resides, the location of childcare providers and the children’s extracurricular activities, and how those factors may all change as the children grow up.

We can help you weigh all of these factors and determine the best visitation schedule for your children. We also know what common pitfalls may occur in some visitation schedules and will make sure you avoid those pitfalls. If parents are unable to reach an agreement as to the appropriate visitation schedule for the children, we will help you explore all of your options for reaching a resolution including negotiation, mediation, or litigation and a trial.

Once parents have agreed on a visitation schedule, either parent can attempt to alter that schedule if there has been a material change in circumstances that makes a change to the schedule in the children’s best interests. Our attorneys have the experience to help you understand the definition of a material change and determine the best way to pursue a modification to your current visitation schedule.