Seeking Split Custody of my Child

Ask a Lawyer


How do I get shared custody of my child? My ex-spouse claims that if we were to go to court, that I would not get to see my child that often. Is this correct? What would prevent me from seeking split custody?


Richmond attorney Jessica C. Boutwell

While I am not licensed in your jurisdiction, I can give you some general information about child custody. What the court considers in determining custody will depend on your state’s law. If you do not have a custody order in place at this time, if you went to court, the judge would attempt to create a schedule that protects your child’s best interests. Generally, there is not a presumption that one parent is better than the other. The judge may hear testimony and see evidence regarding, for example, each of your roles in your child’s life, your ability to co-parent, whether your home is appropriate for your child, your child’s developmental needs, and your physical and mental health.

If you are looking to modify an existing custody order (whether it was made by a court or agreed upon by you and your ex-spouse), you may have to establish for the court that some circumstance has changed since the last custody order was entered, and how your child benefits from changing the custody schedule to give you more time. If your ex-spouse is withholding visitation time from you, some courts may consider this significant enough to change a custody order.

Finally, although it is tempting to think of time with your child as a game of numbers between you and your ex-spouse, try and think of it as obtaining as much quality time with him as possible (whether that is more or less than half the time).  While a “50/50” schedule may work while your child is very young, it may be less feasible once he starts school. Continue to be as actively involved in your child’s care and upbringing as you can under your existing arrangement.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Virginia divorce lawyer Jessica C. Boutwell, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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