family court judge deciding child custody caseDissolving a relationship when you share children is complicated. A suitable custody and parenting time arrangement will have to be agreed upon by all parties, including the judge. Lu Aloupas is not just a lawyer; she is also a divorced mother of two children. She understands what it will take to move forward both legally and emotionally.

The end of your romantic relationship is not the end of your obligation as a parent—being a parent is forever. Ideally, both parents make every effort to become part of the lives of their children after a separation or divorce, but Lu will work to find a solution that is in the best interest of the children. 

Possible Custody and Parenting Time Arrangements

Child custody arrangements are designed based on the specific circumstances of the parents and the best interests of the child or children. When a parent travels for work, serves in the military, or works from home, custody agreements can be designed with flexibility to accommodate the situation. When one parent is unfit or unwilling to share custody, the agreement will reflect that.

Some possible types of child custody arrangements in Virginia include:

Primary physical custody.  Primary physical custody determines where the children will reside - their "home base" - and the parent who will be making the day-to-day decisions about the children's care.  The parent with primary physical custody is responsible for keeping the other parent informed about issues impacting the children, such as academic or behavioral problems and health care concerns.

Shared custody. Shared custody is ideal for children whose parents communicate effectively and have a history of sharing the responsibility of raising the children.  Where both parents are active and involved in the children's education, extra-curricular activities, health, and well-being, a shared parenting plan helps children maintain close relationships with their parents. 

Legal custody. Legal custody is the authority to make major life decisions regarding the children.  Most parents have joint legal custody, which requires effective communication and co-parenting.  When parties cannot work together in the best interests of their children, or a parent is deemed unfit, courts can award sole legal custody - which includes sole decision-making authority - to one parent.

While these are some common general types of custody, arrangements can be customized to fit each family's unique circumstances, and the court's primary consideration is the child's best interests. Parents can also work together to develop a custody arrangement through negotiation or mediation, leading to more tailored and amicable solutions.

Understanding the Basics of Virginia Child Support

The purpose of child support is to ensure that both parents contribute financially to the well-being and upbringing of their children. Child support guidelines and procedures are outlined in Virginia law, and they apply not only to divorcing parents but also to unmarried parents who are no longer in a relationship with each other, as well as to children born as the result of a one-time encounter. These guidelines take into account who has custody of the children, the gross income of both parents, and other factors such as health insurance costs, work-related childcare expenses, and any support paid for other children from a previous relationship.

Child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a substantial increase or decrease in income, changes in custody arrangements, or changes in the child's needs. Virginia has various mechanisms for enforcing child support orders, including wage withholding, intercepting tax refunds, suspending driver's licenses, and more. Failure to comply with child support obligations can lead to legal consequences.

Parents have the option to negotiate child support agreements outside of court through mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. However, any child support agreement must comply with Virginia's child support guidelines and receive court approval. Throughout the child support process, the court's primary consideration is the best interest of the child. Child support aims to provide for the child's financial needs and maintain their standard of living despite the change in circumstances.

Lu Understands How Hard It Is to Protect Your Children 

When you work with Aloupas Law, you can be sure that we are sensitive to the concerns of parents and the needs of children during the custody and parenting time disputes, and we will work with you to negotiate a custody or parenting time agreement that allays your worries and fears.

Please contact us today to learn more about our child custody legal services. We offer one-hour consultations in person as well as by phone or Zoom, during which we will hear your story, answer your questions, and give you options on how to proceed, given the facts of your case. Don't delay another day. Reach out to us now.