Courts in Virginia, and many other states, increasingly favor joint legal custody arrangements, as they allow children to maintain healthy contact with both parents. While such custody decisions are often beneficial for the children involved, they can be difficult for parents, who must adjust to handing over their children to their former spouse.

While shared custody is the best option in many divorce cases, others call for one parent to receive full custody. These cases are typically difficult for those involved. Virginia parents involved in such a case should employ a qualified family law attorney to help maximize their chances of being awarded legal custody of their children.

Experts recommend that parents with joint legal custody make efforts to speak with their children at predictable and reasonable times while they are living with their other parents. It is generally helpful to arrange phone calls for the same day and time every week. Calling irregularly can result in an unresponsive child and makes a fruitful conversation less likely. Email, cards and letters may make good substitutes for calls in some cases. While simple, an email from a parent helps a child know that he or she is loved and supportive, which is beneficial for the parent-child relationship.

Because the child spends his or her time in two different homes, it is important for parents to clearly and firmly establish the rules of their household. Because children often thrive on structure, it is important not to change rules too suddenly and to be sure the child understands what is expected of him or her. However, it is perhaps even more important to make sure the child knows that both parents' homes are his or her homes as well and to treat him or her as such.

Source: Huffington Post, "Sharing Custody of My Child: What Do I Do?," Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe, June 11, 2012