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Co-Parenting in Virginia: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Custody and Parental Rights in Virginia

Virginia Code Section 20-124.3 states that custody, with respect to the child’s “care and control,” shall be granted in accordance with the best interest of the child. This has always been the primary factor that courts weigh when making decisions about custody.


In terms of “rights of custody,” there are father’s rights and mother’s rights. Virginia Code Section 20-124.2 delineates the rights of both primary caretaker and the other parent. The primary caretaker is the parent with whom the child has a primary residence and legal decision-making rights. The other parent holds “non-custodial” parental rights. Both must be legally recognized by the court. Both must also comply with court orders.


Child Support Under Virginia Law

When parents are living apart or during a divorce or separation, Virginia law provides that the non-custodial parent shall pay child support, calculated pursuant to the “Virginia Support Plan.” This plan helps to ensure that a fair and uniform amount is paid. The amount is calculated based on a variety of factors, including the incomes of both parents, any preexisting support orders, the amount of time the child spends in each parent’s home and the individual needs of the child.


The Support Plan also takes into consideration extraordinary expenses such as medical bills and the cost of daycare. Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 dictates that the parents share the costs of daycare according to their respective incomes.


Co-Parenting Expenses

In Virginia, both parents are generally held responsible for costs associated with raising their child, regardless of whether they live together or not. For example, Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 stipulates that the court can order either party to pay for some or all of the child’s medical expenses. The court can also order the division of usually private educational or childcare expenses. In addition to that the court may require the couple to share any additional co-parenting expenses.


Making Decisions Regarding the Child

Under Virginia law, the primary caretaker typically has sole decision-making power regarding the child’s health, welfare, and education. Virginia Code Section 20-124.5 states that the court must consider the “age and maturity” of the child when determining who should be granted this authority. The court might also consider the degree to which each parent has been involved in the child’s life.


Parenting Plan in Virginia

In Virginia, a “parenting plan” is required in all joint custody arrangements. This plan outlines the details of how the child will be primarily cared for and also how visitation rights will be granted. Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 indicates that the plan must clearly detail the division of parenting responsibilities, the division of decision-making power, the division of child-related expenses, and a visitation schedule. Parenting plans also commonly include provisions for dispute resolution, mediation and/or supervised visitation.


Visitation Rights in Virginia

Under Virginia Code Section 20-124.1, the court can order both a “reasonable” and “unsupervised” visitation schedule. This schedule should address the amount of time that each parent will be allowed with the child. Visitation schedules must also take into consideration factors like school and holidays. Furthermore, the court looks at the health and safety of the child when determining visitation rights. Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 does state that courts must also consider “any other relevant factors” when ordering visitation rights.



When parents in Virginia cannot resolve conflicts regarding custody and visitation, the court may order them to mediation. Virginia Code Section 20-124.6 outlines the process of mediation, when it can be ordered, and how the process should occur. Generally, the court will appoint a licensed mediator to assist the parents in coming to an agreement. Through the mediation process, the parents can craft a parenting plan that addresses any areas of dispute. Mediation can also help to reduce the cost of the proceedings and alleviate the tension between the parents.


In conclusion, it is important to understand Virginia’s laws when it comes to co-parenting. If a co-parenting arrangement is desirable and practical for parents in Virginia, it is important to consult a knowledgeable professional to ensure that all laws are followed and that the child’s best interests are met.


Fact Check and Sources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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