Sharing custody of children can easily be the hardest thing that a divorcing couple has to do after they decide to end their marriage. Instead of getting to avoid and ignore one another, they have to see each other frequently and communicate effectively about their children.
If you are about to file for divorce, you probably aren’t looking forward to sharing custody with your ex. Is shared custody the norm in Virginia divorces?
State law doesn’t mandate specific custody terms
Virginia’s family law statutes do not state that shared custody is the necessary outcome of a divorce. However, the law does state that judges must base decisions on the best interests of the children in the family.
With the exception of family environments plagued by addiction or abuse, children typically benefit the most from having ongoing relationships with both parents. In other words, the best interest standard usually leads to some form of shared custody, ideally with both parents having a lot of parenting time and access to the children. If you intend to ask for sole custody, you will need to have a compelling reason to provide to the courts for that request.
Co-parenting gets easier once things settle down
Shared custody can be hard initially, but it gets easier with practice. You won’t always have a strong emotional reaction to your ex. You might even become friends again once enough time has passed and the wounds from your marriage heal.
Instead of fighting for an unlikely sole custody outcome in your divorce, you may find that it is a better use of your energy and resources to focus on requesting terms that protect you and your kids while you adjust to the reality of shared custody.