Virginia Divorce Custody Basics – Answers to 5 Key Virginia Divorce FAQs

Q4: Does the timing of a separation matter in a Virginia divorce?

Yes, it can. To obtain a divorce from the court, you need to separate for a certain amount of time.

If you separate and live apart for a full year, you can qualify to obtain a no fault divorce. However, things can move even faster. You can obtain a divorce after just six months of being separated and living apart, if you and your spouse do not have any minor children, and if you have developed a written settlement agreement regarding your property.

Q5: What happens during a “fault” divorce? What’s the sequence of steps?

* There are four main grounds for a “fault” divorce in Virginia: adultery, desertion, cruelty and conviction of a felony coupled with a period of incarceration of more than one year.

* If there are “fault” grounds for your divorce, you may file immediately, and you are not subject to six or twelve-month waiting periods.

* These situations tend to be more complicated, but filing for divorce allows you to seek certain remedies from the court that can stabilize the situation.

Q6: What are the types of custody in Virginia?

There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Q7: What is legal custody?

Legal custody has to do with who gets to make critical decisions regarding the children’s education, medical care, schooling, religious instructions and other legal issues. In general, the court prefers to award “joint legal custody.” That is, both parents get to share these responsibilities. Under certain circumstances — e.g. one spouse deserted the family or developed a serious mental illness — the court will award one parent sole legal custody. This can also occur by agreement of the parties. However, in general, the court wants both parents to cooperate and contribute to the upbringing of the children.

Q8: What is physical custody?

Physical custody has to do with which parent takes care of the children, when and under what circumstances. These arrangements can also be settled through an agreement. If a dispute goes before the court, the court may look to which parent, on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, has cared for, fed and otherwise supported the children from the marriage. The primary caregiver and parent who typically has the children reside with him or her most of the time is known as the custodial parent. The minority caregiver, and often the parent who has visitation, is known as the non-custodial parent.

If you need assistance now with your Fairfax Virginia divorce, call our team at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC right now for a consultation at (703) 370-5555.

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