Parents in Virginia love their children, even if they no longer love one another. When divorce is on the horizon, decisions will need to be made on which parent will have custody of the child and when. In Virginia, child custody decisions are made based primarily on what is in the child’s best interests. There are numerous factors the court will consider when determining the best interests of the child for custody and visitation purposes.
First, the court will consider the child’s age and health, along with the child’s developmental needs, which will change as the child grows. Each parent’s age and health will also be considered. The relationship each parent has with the child will be considered, with an emphasis on the positive role a parent plays in the child’s life and how well the parent will be able to assess the child’s needs. The child’s needs will be considered, particularly in light of the important relationship the child has with others, such as brothers and sisters, friends and relatives.
The role each parent has had in the past as far as raising and caring for the child will be considered, as will the role the parent will play in raising and caring for the child in the future. The willingness of each parent to actively support the relationship the child has with the other parent is a consideration, especially if one parent unreasonably denied visitation or access to the child in the past. Each parent’s willingness and ability to have a meaningful relationship with the child is also a consideration.
The court will also consider each parent’s willingness and ability to resolve disagreements with their ex in a cooperative manner will be given consideration. The child’s preference will be considered if the child is mature enough to express a preference. Finally, any instances of family or sexual abuse will be considered.
Child custody decisions are some of the most important decisions that will be made in a divorce. Not only will they affect the parents’ futures, but they will affect the child for the rest of that child’s life. Therefore, it is very important that the child’s best interests form the basis of any child custody decisions. In this way, courts and parents can ensure that they are doing all they can to support the child and meet the child’s physical, mental and emotional needs.