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Focus on the child’s needs when making child custody decisions

When parents in Virginia divorce, they will need to execute a parenting plan that addresses when each parent will have the child in their care. If parents cannot reach an out-of-court agreement regarding physical custody of the child, they can turn to the court to have a judge issue an order regarding where the child will live and when. However they are made, these child custody decisions are very important, as they could affect the child for the rest of his or her life.

After a divorce, parents should try to keep a child’s life as stable as possible. For example, if feasible it may help for the child to stay in the family home and in the same school district that they were in prior to the divorce. In this situation, the custodial parent can retain the family home during the property division process. This way the child will not have to undergo a move during what is already a stressful time.

Another way to achieve this goal is through “nesting.” This is a child custody arrangement in which the child stays in the family home, and the parents take turns residing in it with the child. When it is not a parent’s turn to reside in the family home, he or she will live in a separate apartment. This way, it is the parents, not the child, that are rotating between living arrangements.

Parents have options when it comes to executing a parenting plan that meets the best interests of their child. While it may be preferable for the child to stay in the same home they were living in prior to the divorce, sometimes it is the case where both parents will need to move post-divorce. When this happens, it can help for the child to at least stay in contact with their old friends. In the end, when making decisions regarding child custody, parents should try to reach an outcome that provides their child with the stability and support needed to grow and thrive post-divorce.

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