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Who Determines the Custody Schedule?

If you are facing a concern related to your child custody schedule, it’s an important matter that requires your careful attention. If you and your children’s other parent are able to reach an agreement regarding how you will divide your time with your children, the court is very likely to accept the schedule you devise. If you’re unable to do so, however, you’ll look to the court for its guidance. The first order of business if you need to determine a child custody schedule is consulting with an experienced Virginia child custody attorney. 

Negotiations with Your Children’s Other Parent

Whether your need for a child custody schedule determination is based on divorce, on a post-divorce modification, or on the breakup of a relationship outside of marriage and divorce, you have options when it comes to negotiating terms. Consider the following:

  • You can attempt to find common ground and negotiate a schedule between yourselves. 
  • If you’ve exhausted your ability to negotiate with one another, you can turn to your respective child custody attorneys to negotiate favorable terms that uphold each of your parental rights.
  • You can turn to a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, in which you, your children’s other parent, and your respective divorce attorneys explore your best options under the skilled guidance of a professional mediator who serves as a neutral third party. 

Many couples find that keeping their parenting time schedule within the realm of their own decision-making power is preferable to abdicating this power to the court, which can be very motivating in terms of negotiations. 

The Court’s Intervention

If you are unable to resolve your custody schedule between yourselves, you will need the court to assign a schedule on your behalf, which means you are likely to receive one of the state’s standardized parenting schedules. Whenever a Virginia court makes a determination regarding child custody, including parenting schedules, it employs factors related to the best interests of the children involved, such as the following:

  • Each child’s overall health, including both physical and mental health, in relation to his or her evolving stage of development 
  • Each parent’s relationship with each child and each parent’s ability and inclination to assess and meet each child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual needs
  • Each child’s needs in relation to other important people in his or her life, including siblings, other family members, and friends
  • The level of participation each parent has had in each child’s life so far
  • The likelihood that each parent will actively facilitate each child’s ongoing relationship with his or her other parent
  • Each child’s reasonable preference (if the court deems him or her capable of participating meaningfully)
  • Any history of family abuse or neglect by either parent
  • Any additional factors that the court determines are relevant in the case at hand

It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Virginia Child Custody Attorney

The savvy Virginia child custody attorneys at Mahoney Richmond Thurston PLLC, dedicate their impressive practice to helping clients like you obtain custody schedules that support their parental rights. Learn more by contacting us today.