Virginia Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

The Virginia laws about custody and visitation are found in Chapter 6.1, Title 20 of the Code of Virginia.

Here are some guidelines from the law to help you make a custody and visitation schedule.

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Joint and sole physical custody

In Virginia, you can have joint or sole physical custody.

Joint physical custody is when both parents share physical and custodial care of the child. The child may still live with one parent, but both parents spend significant time with the child.

Sole physical custody is when one parent has physical and custodial care of the child. The child lives with the custodial parent and visits the non-custodial parent.

Custody and visitation arrangements

You can make a custody and visitation schedule for your custody agreement to show your physical custody arrangements.

Your schedule should include:

You can make your schedule in a custody calendar so it's easy to see each parent's time. You can include your calendar in your agreement, but you may also want to write your schedule out in legal terms.

You can also include schedule provisions in your agreement to help make your schedule work better and run more smoothly.

Virginia policies about custody and visitation

You should consider these policies as you create your custody and visitation schedule::

  • The court determines custody schedules based on the best interest of the child
  • The schedule should give both parents frequent and continuing contact with the child
  • Both parents are encouraged to share in the responsibilities of rearing their child
  • When awarding custody, the court has no presumption in favor of either parent
  • A parent who is relocating must give 30 days advance written notice to the court and the other parent
Standard visitation schedule

Virginia has no standard visitation schedule that the court will order if the parents don't agree on a schedule.

If parents go to court to have a judge decide on the schedule, the judge will make a schedule that is in the best interest of the child and gives both parents frequent and continuing contact with the child.

Mediation and court

If parents can't negotiate and agree on a visitation schedule, the judge may order then to go to mediation before going to court.

In mediation, the parents will work with a neutral third party to help them work out a schedule they both support.

If parents go to court, each parent will be able to show the judge a proposed schedule and explain why it is in the best interest of the child. The judge can accept either parent's schedule or make a new schedule. The parents must follow the schedule the judge determines.

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The top twenty cities in Virginia (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Arlington, Richmond, Newport News, Hampton, Alexandria, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Suffolk, Lunchburg, Dale City, Reston, Centreville, Annandale, Burke, Chantilly, Danville, Harrisonburg.

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