Virginia Custody & Visitation Laws
- This section defines important terms used throughout the rest of the chapter. The term "joint custody" can be used to refer to joint legal custody (parents share decision-making authority), joint physical custody (parents share physical custody), or any combination of the two. A "person with a legitimate interest" can be any blood relative, family member, or other person involved in the case. The phrase "sole custody" means only one person has legal and physical custody of the child.
Court-ordered Custody and Visitation Arrangements (20-124.2)
- This five-part section details how the court will decide custody and visitation arrangements. There will be prompt adjudication, and mediation will be used as an alternative to litigation. The court will consider the best interests of the child, without favor for either parent.
Child support may be ordered to continue until the child is 18, graduates from high school or turns nineteen 19 while living at home. Support may be ordered for a longer period of time if the child is mentally or physically disabled. The court may order mental health or psychological evaluations for any party involved in the case and decide who pays for it.
There is also an option to prevent a parent from filing for custody or visitation for a period of 10 years if they are convicted of serious felonies involving a child or the other parent.
In Camera Interviews of Child; Record (20-124.2:1)
- If the court decides to conduct an interview of a child "in camera"--in judge's chambers--without attorneys present, a record of the interview may become part of the custody and visitation case records.
Best Interests of Child; Visitation (20-124.2:1)
- To help the court decide custody and visitation issues, this section specifically lists what the court will consider in determining the "best interests of the child." Issues considered include the age and physical and mental health of the child and parents; the relationship each parent has with the child; whether one parent will support visitation rights of the other parent; how the parents cooperate; the preference of the child; and any history of abuse in the family.
- In custody and visitation cases, the court may order a dispute resolution evaluation session with a certified mediator. To determine whether mediation is appropriate, the court will consider whether there has been a history of family abuse.
Notification of Relocation (20-124.5)
- Any party who relocates will give 30 days notice to the court and the other party, unless the court orders otherwise for good cause.
Access to Minor's Records (20-124.6)
- No parent shall be denied access to a child's academic or health records unless a physician or psychologist determines it is necessary in order to prevent substantial harm to the child. Any parent denied the right to records may have the denial reviewed by the court.