Legal custody is the kind of custody that relates to making major decisions that impact the children. It could be medical decisions, decisions relating to school, or decisions relating to religion.

Any major decision for the child that needs to be made will be impacted by which parent has legal custody in Virginia. If you are currently going through a custody battle or are in need of legal representation surrounding a dispute involving a child, it is pertinent that you consult with an experienced lawyer immediately.

Physical vs. Legal Custody

Physical custody relates to where the children will be at any particular time. Usually, people think of it in terms of where the primary residence is.

Legal custody is a different part of custody. It relates to making major decisions regarding the children. Those could be major medical decisions or decisions relating to schooling or religion. The person or persons who have legal custody of a child in Virginia are the ones who have the ability to make those decisions.

Responsibilities Associated with Legal Custody

There are many responsibilities associated with legal custody of a child in Virginia. Decision-making, such as if a child should be put on a particular medication, is a major responsibility. One of the issues seen frequently is when a child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and a doctor might recommend use of a medication. A parent with legal custody of a child in Virginia would have the responsibility to decide whether or not it is best for the child to start on that medication.

Legal custody is focused on decision-making. It can also relate to accessing information, but more commonly it is decision-making for the children.

Awarding Custody

The factors that come into play most with legal custody battles have to do with each parent’s ability to assess the needs of the children and address them. As important, if not more important, they will have to do with the parents’ willingness to work together to cooperate and make decisions for the children.

A situation where two parents simply cannot communicate and cannot decide on anything together might be a situation where a court would consider ordering sole legal custody to one parent over the other.

If one parent traditionally makes very bad decisions concerning the children, which might reflect that they cannot properly assess the children’s needs, that is another factor that might come into consideration when the court is deciding what to do with legal custody of a child in Virginia.

Judges do not like to order sole legal custody. Judges often times will say that it is their expectation that two parents who have created a child together need to learn how to make decisions together. There are some cases, however, in which judges decide that sole legal custody is better for the children.

Termination of Custody Arrangements

Typically, the fallback is age 18 for when an individual no longer has to be under any sort of custody. Once a child turns 18, they are considered by law to be an adult and, therefore, they are no longer subject to custody. There is a method for a child to become emancipated from their parent. If a child is emancipated, they would not be subject to the custody scenario in the order, but that is a very rare situation.