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Many Virginia parents want to share custody of a child

New trends in parenting are leading some state bills regarding time with the children after a divorce. Many parents, fathers and mothers, want to share custody of a child in order to cement healthy relationships with both parents. A bill recently introduced in Virginia claims to be taking baby steps toward shared custody as a default, but some say that the common interpretation of "best interests of the child" part of custody law already helps parents achieve shared custody when appropriate. 

It wasn't long ago when it was presumed that the mother should be the primary caregiver for a child. This presumption left many fathers as visitors in the lives of their children, and many women facing a greater burden of the childcare responsibility. Changing gender roles and opinions about parenting have led many families to adopt a shared parenting strategy, even after a divorce. 

In Virginia, one state senator has introduced a bill that would have judges communicate in writing their reasoning for custody decisions. This baby step would likely lead the way for more joint living arrangements, say supporters of the bill. The standing "best interest" legal standard already encourages this, say some, because shared custody is considered the best practice unless there are certain other circumstances. 

At the time of a divorce, individuals will need to determine the best way to handle the care of the children. For many families, the individuals will decide to share custody of a child. A person facing the end of a marriage can choose to enlist help with the various legal decisions that accompany a breakup. Many people decide to hire a family law attorney for guidance. 

Source:, "Shared-parenting bills could reshape custody battles", Michael Alison Chandler, Dec. 31, 2017

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