Child custody cases can be complex and emotionally grueling experiences for those involved, no matter the financial circumstances. For the most part, the issues that high net worth individuals must confront in custody decisions are similar to the ones faced by others working through the process, but there are some characteristics that can further complicate the undertaking.
Virginia divorce cases involve both legal custody, which is the right of parents to make legal decisions about their child, and physical custody, which refers to where the child resides and who has responsibility for them during set periods of time. Virginia divorces often result in joint legal custody, so that both parents have a say in legal decisions. For physical custody, either the parents themselves, such as through mediation, or the court, such as through litigation, will decide where and when children reside, resulting in either joint custody or sole custody arrangements.
One of the issues that arises occasionally with high-income individuals is that they sometimes are required to travel frequently for their work, and their travel schedules might not be fully predictable. Another related factor is that they might work long hours that are not always foreseeable or easy to project. This can make it difficult in a divorce to structure custody and a parental visitation schedule as it is unrealistic sometimes to forecast when the parent or parents with the robust work slate will be available to be with their children.
What makes divorces with high net worth couples so complex is the finances involved. Custody decisions can be part of that complexity because custody can influence the financial support one parent provides to the other, potentially involving a large amount of money when high net worth individuals are involved. In particular, a parent who gains sole custody of a child would be due child support from the other parent and that support is based in part on the non-custodial parent’s gross income. If the child is spending the bulk of its time with one parent, the child support responsibilities of the non-custodial parent would be higher than in a joint custody. This could lead some parents with a lower income to fight for sole custody or spur others with a high income to push for joint custody.
As with any divorce, it is also crucial to remember that both sides should be keeping the best interests of the children foremost in their minds. Their legal strategy and the strategy of their lawyers should reflect that determination.