Divorces are already painful but divorces involving children can be even more difficult, especially when the question of custody arises. There are many forms of child custody in Fairfax that a person can look into, that will suit a variety of circumstances. It may seem overwhelming at first, but a compassionate child custody lawyer can help you find the custody arrangement that works best for all parties involved. Get in touch with a lawyer today.

Common Forms of Custody

The two main types of legal custody are joint legal custody and sole legal custody. There has been a recent shift in what forms of child custody in Fairfax are most common. Before, there were a lot more custody scenarios where the children were at one house primarily, and the non-primary parent would see them on the weekend and during summer vacation and certain holidays. That seems to be shifting more these days to shared custody arrangements. This is perhaps because it is more common to have households with two full time working parents.

Recommended Forms of Custody

Child care experts do recommend certain forms of child custody in Fairfax over others. Some of those recommendations are based on the age of the child. For example, some experts say that a very small child should have regular contact with both parents. That does not mean that the child has to sleep at a different house every night, but it might mean that the non-primary parent comes over two or three times a week for a general visit so that the frequency of contact keeps the baby connected to the other parent. With older children, these experts might say it is less important to have that frequent contact.

The court is willing to consider the desires of older teenagers, so teenagers can sometimes request that the noncustodial parent comes over for more regular visits. In cases involving teenagers, they typically want the schedule arranged so that they can maintain their own activities without an issue.

Legal  Custody

The different forms of child custody in Fairfax can be divided into two categories: legal custody, and physical custody. Legal custody arrangements are more concerned with who has the right to make legal decisions for the child and, will be providing care for the child. However, housing arrangements for the child can also be included in the terms of a legal custody decision.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is another term used to refer to legal custody most typically, and this is a scenario where only one parent has the right to make legal decisions for the children. If the parties do not agree, the parent with sole legal custody has the right to make the final decision.

Third-Party Custody

Third-party custody is a situation where custody of a child or children is awarded to a non-parent. This could be a grandparent, a stepparent, a more distant relative, or someone else who the court decides is the best equipped to care for the child. Third-party custody is quite unusual because the law in Virginia gives preference to the biological parent or an adoptive parent who has custody of the child.

Joint Custody

Joint custody is typically used to refer to legal custody, which means each parent has an equal right to make important decisions for the children and neither parent can make an important decision, absent an emergency, without the consent of the other parent. For example, if one parent wants to take the child to the therapist and the other parent does not want them to go, the child will not be able to go to the therapist until both parents agree, absent intervention by the court.

Physical Custody

This form of child custody concerns where the child lives, and how often they see their parents.

Alternating/Shared Custody

Alternating custody is a term typically used for parties who do a week on/week off schedule, meaning one parent has the child for one week and then the other parent gets the child the next week. Shared custody is when both parents have a substantial amount of time with the children, but it does not necessarily have to follow a week on/week off schedule. It could be that the primary parent has the children most of the time, but then the other parent has weekends that begin on Thursday and end on Monday. That would be considered a shared custody arrangement.

Bird’s Nest Custody

Bird’s nest custody is an arrangement that some people do where the children stay in the house, or nest if you will, and the parents switch out when custody changes. The idea is that the children do not have to bounce back and forth, but that they stay in the same home. My experience is this type of custody does not often work, but it is something some parents may try out with their children.

Split Custody

Split custody is a term that refers to the physical custody arrangement. It is not something you often see in court, but this is a scenario where, for example, there are two children, and the younger child lives primarily with one parent and the older child lives primarily with the other. In this scenario, the parties often try to create times where the children are together, but in general, all of the children are not in the same primary household.

Value of a Custody Attorney

Going through a divorce is difficult, and can be especially difficult for children. When getting a divorce, it is important to know about the different forms of child custody in Fairfax in order to choose a custody arrangement that works best for you. A Fairfax custody lawyer can help you and the other party comes to a consensus about what is best for you, and your child. Contact a child custody attorney to learn more.