Non-custodial parents in a divorce or separation sometimes find themselves wishing they were able to spend more time with their children even if they do not have primary physical custody of the kids.

To better understand the law related to how custody is determined in Virginia, it is helpful to refer to Virginia Code Section 20-124.2, which explains:

B. In determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall consider and may award joint legal, joint physical, or sole custody, and there shall be no presumption in favor of any form of custody. The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. As between the parents, there shall be no presumption or inference of law in favor of either. The court shall give due regard to the primacy of the parent-child relationship but may upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the best interest of the child would be served thereby award custody or visitation to any other person with a legitimate interest.

In practice, this legislation has historically been interpreted as granting sole custody to one parent or another, based on the "best interest of the child". However, over time, this precedent has been challenged, and joint custody is becoming more normal. A bill passed in the Virginia legislature in 2018 has directed the courts to give more consideration to granting joint, over sole, custody of children.  The Virginian-Pilot discussed the new legislation here.

If you want to ask for more visitation time, speak to an attorney at Smith Strong at 804-325-1245 (Richmond office) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg office).  Read on for some tips that might help.