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The types of custody available to parents in Virginia

The Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts are responsible for handling family law matters, such as child custody. Whether related to a divorce or initiated after a separation, child custody can be a contentious area of the law. Parents in Virginia have two types of custody that they may lobby for when a district court has the power to decide such matters for a child.

The first form of custody is physical custody. Physical custody is the type of custody that concerns where a child physically lives. In Virginia and in many other jurisdictions, a district court can decide to give just one of the parents physical custody. This is called sole physical custody and in such cases a district court may order the other parent to have visitation time with their kids.

The second form of custody is legal custody. Legal custody is the form of custody that allows a parent to make important decisions about their child's wellness. For example, a parent with legal custody may decide to have a child participate in a religion or faith system, may permit a child to attend a specialized or private school or may agree to certain health-related treatments for the child. A parent who lacks legal custody does not have a voice in these and other important matters and, like physical custody, legal custody may be shared or awarded exclusively to one parent.

Child custody is an important legal issue for parents in Virginia. District courts are often led by what they believe to be children's best interests when they make child custody decisions, but parents may advocate for their rights when the custody of their children is at hand.

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