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Resolve Your Virginia Child Custody Case While Keeping Your Child’s Best Interests in Mind

Key Takeaways

  • Child custody lawyers in Virginia are a valuable asset in any child custody case.
  • A child custody arrangement can only benefit you, so consider establishing one even if you have an amicable relationship with the other parent.
  • Virginia utilizes several different custody agreements, including sole custody and joint custody, referring to both physical and legal custody.
  • Several factors determine who gets custody of the child, but the ultimate decision will be based on the best interests of the child.
woman hugging small child with both of them smiling

Few areas of family law stir up emotions the way child custody does, whether as part of a divorce or between unmarried parents. Parents naturally realize that the amount and quality of time that they can spend with their children will impact their parent-child relationships.

At Randall & Bruch, PC, our Virginia family law attorneys represent parents in all types of child custody cases, including those involving modifications and enforcement.

Who Will Decide Your Family’s Fate?

Ideally, you and the other parent should be able to reach an agreement on a child custody or parenting time plan that works best for all of you. Your case may be resolved in one of the following ways:

  • Negotiations
  • Collaborative law sessions
  • Mediation
  • Trial

Of these options, a trial is the least attractive because in a trial, a judge who does not know your family will be the one to make decisions that will greatly affect you and your child’s life going forward. Nonetheless, if parents can’t come to an agreement, then a trial may be necessary.

Factors That Can Impact Child Custody in Virginia

You can expect a family law judge to pay close attention to the following factors while your Virginia child custody case is under consideration:

  • The age and health of the child or children
  • The age and physical and mental health of the parents
  • The strength of the parent-child relationship with each parent
  • Factors involving siblings, peers, and extended family members
  • The parents’ respective support for each other’s ongoing relationship with the child
  • The parents’ ability to cooperate and resolve disputes as they arise
  • The child’s stated preferences if they are old enough for their opinions to be taken into account
  • Any existing history of domestic abuse

Try to avoid talking on the phone with your ex-spouse if your co-parenting relationship sours. Instead, communicate via email or some other method that makes it possible to keep detailed records of your communication. This allows you to gather evidence if they say anything that could be relevant and prevents any “he said/she said” arguments about what was said over the phone.

Different Child Custody Agreements in Virginia

However your parenting plan is determined, it will be expressed in a court order laying out one of the following custody arrangements:

  • Joint legal custody: In this arrangement, both parents have an equal right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as regarding education and healthcare.
  • Joint physical custody: This type of custody refers to the child or children alternating with whom they live. In some situations, the children stay in a single home while the parents alternate. Others will have children primarily residing in one parent’s home and live in the other parent’s home on an alternating schedule. In the latter, the parent whom the child mainly lives with is considered to have primary physical custody.
  • Sole legal custody: With sole legal custody, only one parent has the right to make decisions about the child’s welfare. The other parent does not have a say in these matters.
  • Sole physical custody: Sole physical custody is an arrangement in which the child lives with one parent and not the other. This arrangement may or may not involve visitation with the non-custodial parent, but the child will always live with the same parent.

Our lawyers can help you pursue a custody plan that suits you and your child’s needs.

Having a custody agreement is always beneficial. Even if you have an amicable relationship with the other parent, there are only benefits to having an official custody agreement and only downsides to not having one. A custody agreement protects your right to see your child if the other parent suddenly stops being amicable.

lawyer meeting with family on couch reviewing documents

What Types Of Visitation Are There?

A parent may have two basic types of visitation or parenting time in an agreement or a court order.

  • Unsupervised parenting time allows parents time with their children without requiring anyone else to chaperone.
  • Supervised parenting time requires a third party to be present during all visits between the parent and their children.

Visitation may be in person or by electronic means such as Zoom, FaceTime, or telephone calls.

Every case is unique, and there is no guarantee of which form of visitation a parent may receive, but our attorneys can help you pursue the arrangement that suits your family.

When Do Your Child Support Obligations End in Virginia?

Child support doesn’t last forever, and knowing exactly when your child support obligations end in Virginia is important. Most obligations end when the child turns 18 or graduates high school. However, there is no universal answer, so you must examine your unique situation. Consult with one of our custody lawyers to learn about the options in your particular circumstance.

Can Parents Request Changes in Child Support Orders?

Yes, child support orders can be changed if you can prove to the court that there has been a significant change in circumstances. Changes in financial status are particularly relevant, but more factors affect child support orders than you might think.

How a Custody Agreement Can Impact Your Summer Vacation Plans

Custody agreements often have stipulations regarding taking children across state lines or out of the country, even just for a temporary vacation. Make sure you know the details of your custody agreement before embarking on a vacation with your child somewhere far from the other parent.

Why Clients Choose Randall & Bruch, PC

At Randall & Bruch, PC, you will not feel like just another case. When you come to our law offices for help with family legal issues, our child custody attorneys will take the time to develop a personalized plan that reflects your unique legal needs. Whether it involves negotiating for a custody agreement that you and your children deserve or modifying or enforcing an agreement, you can rest assured that our lawyers will do everything they can to help you and your family.

We take a holistic approach to child custody cases, striving to gather all the information we can. That means everything about you and the other parent, good and bad. Our attorneys will also use information about how each parent performs their duties and their relationship with the children. There is no such thing as too much information in a child custody case, and it is critical that we do not find out anything new in court. One of the most common questions we ask clients in child custody cases is, “What would the other parent say is bad about you?” This lets us prepare to defend you against whatever accusations the other parent might throw at you.

In one instance, we were able to win custody for a woman who had been convicted of felony child neglect due to a DUI incident. We used our holistic approach to paint an entire picture of her rather than one snapshot of the worst night of her life. By rehabilitating her image in the court and demonstrating that she was the only one in her kids’ lives who was watching out for them, we got custody granted for her.

While our attorneys will represent you in court and advocate on your behalf, they also perform other essential duties. These include communicating with the child’s guardian ad litem (GAL) to help ensure they are putting in the necessary work, maintaining compliance with procedures, and communicating with other parties, especially when the relationship between the parents is sour.


“Jack Randall and his paralegal Jennifer are truly the best. It was over a year-long custody dispute but they stuck with us, fighting and doing everything possible to make sure my son was the priority. I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work and dedication to our case.” — Jennifer M.

“Mr. Randall and his team provided excellent legal support during my case. He was extremely responsive, provided helpful guidance, and prepared me well for my day in court. Best of all, he helped me achieve the result I wanted and needed. He was professional, kind, and all-around excellent. Would give 10 stars if I could!” — Chrystie S.

They were very professional and informative. They answered my questions in a timely manner. They also did a great job!” — Chong M.

Discuss Your Child Custody Case With a Virginia Family Law Attorney

Our lawyers have 85 combined years of experience helping Virginians. We can help you pursue and negotiate child custody orders, custody modification, and more.

To schedule an initial consultation, call 757-742-6115 or email us. Our attorneys are ready to assist you and your child on this journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Child Choose Who They Live With?

No matter how mature a child may seem or how aware of the situation they are, Virginia courts do not allow children to choose which parent they want to live with primarily. However, if the child is of reasonable intelligence, understanding, and age, a court can take the child’s preference into consideration when making its own decision.

Is it Possible to Modify Custody and Visitation in Virginia?

Custody and visitation matters are only permanently settled once the children become adults. As children grow and circumstances change, a modification of custody and visitation may be required.

Virginia law allows for a modification of custody or visitation when (1) there has been a material change in circumstances and (2) a change in custody or visitation would be in the best interest of the child. Our attorneys can help you determine if you are eligible for a modification and help you pursue it.

What is a Guardian ad Litem, and When Are They Needed?

A guardian ad litem or GAL is a designated guardian assigned by the court to be an independent advocate for the child. They are used by the court to help determine parental rights. Since GALs are public lawyers, they are often overworked and have several children to consider. Part of our job as your attorney is to communicate with them and show them why your child matters and deserves their time, care, and consideration.

Do Virginia Courts Prefer Giving Custody to the Mother?

The courts in Virginia do not prefer giving custody to the mother or to the father, even as a general trend. They consider every case on its own merit and ultimately rule based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Can I Receive Child Support Without a Custody Agreement?

Technically, you can receive child support without a custody agreement. While related, child custody laws and child support are legally distinct issues and can be pursued independently. However, child support calculations are based in part on each parent’s custody share, so calculating child support without a custody agreement is tricky. Remember, you can only benefit from having a custody agreement.

jack t randall

Written By Jack T. Randall


As lifelong resident of Western Tidewater, Jack Randall is a local attorney who wants the best results for his clients. He is an experienced and aggressive attorney with focus on family law, criminal and traffic law, as well as personal injury law cases.