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How is child custody decided in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Family Law

There are many issues that Virginia couples must resolve when they choose to divorce. Aside from figuring out how to separate their property and establish support determinations, they also may have to work out child custody and visitation matters if they share children. Child custody negotiations can be hard and individuals can lean on their attorneys for advice and support when going through such challenges.

At the heart of child custody matters is the importance of preserving and protecting the best interests of the children. From this standard, child custody decisions are built and given to families to help guide them in their post-divorce lives.

The best interests of the child

The best interests of the child standard is accepted throughout jurisdictions across the country. It attempts to discover the unique needs of an individual child and to promote those needs through the adoption of an appropriate child custody plan. As all children are different, it is expected that different interests and needs will be identified by courts as they work with diverse families and individual kids.

Factors for establishing best interests

To learn more about the needs of children and their family lives, courts will look at some important factors. These factors primarily concern the individual child, their relationship with their parents, and their parents’ abilities to support their kids. The factors include but are not limited to:

  • The age of the child
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child
  • The physical and mental abilities of the parents to care for the child
  • Other family members who the child will or will not have access to after the divorce, such as siblings and extended family members
  • The preferences of the child, if they are old enough to have them and are able to make reasonable and intelligent considerations about them
  • The presence of violence or abuse in a family

From these inquiries, courts can learn a lot about children, their parents, and the conditions that they have lived in. They can form important conceptualizations about what may and may not work in the child’s post-divorce life. They can set forth orders that dictate how and with whom children will live once their parents’ divorces are finalized.

There is nothing easy about divorce and matters regarding children can be painful and hard for parents to work through. It is important that families know their rights and options when working through custody and visitation matters. Attorneys who work in this field of law can provide important insights and support to moms and dad who are uncertain of how best to protect their children and their relationships.