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What Do Judges Consider When Determining Custody In Virginia?

When two parents are divorcing in Virginia, one of their primary concerns will be how their child will be affected. The courts recognize that ongoing and meaningful contact with both parents is generally in the child’s best interests. Judges will attempt to order arrangements that have a minimal impact on the children’s life at home, in their community, and at school.

If you and your spouse are divorcing, you should understand the factors a court considers when determining child custody. Working with an experienced Virginia Beach child custody lawyer can help you navigate the process effectively.

How Virginia Courts Determine Child Custody

When a Virginia court decides what parenting obligations and rights to put in place for a child’s well-being, they do not operate on a prejudicial basis toward the mother or the father. The court considers both natural parents equally when determining how to structure custody. Their main concern is the child’s best interests. As such, they will consider factors such as:

  • The child’s age
  • The physical and mental health of each parent
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Any special needs of the child
  • The caregiving role each parent has played before the divorce
  • Any history of family abuse
  • The preferences of the child, if they are old enough and mature enough

Furthermore, the courts will also consider the ability and willingness of each parent to maintain a close relationship with their child, as well as to support their child’s ongoing relationship with the other parent.

Finally, the courts tend to favor a parenting schedule that minimizes any disruption of the child’s life in the wake of the divorce. The schedule should be conducive to regular interaction between the child and both parents.

Common Custody Issues in Virginia

In cases where the divorce is particularly acrimonious, parents may attempt to seek full custody of their children. These attempts are frequently due to a parent’s ill will toward their former spouse and are often made without regard for what will best serve the child’s well-being.

In general, courts will consider granting full custody only in cases where there has been a history of abuse or when one parent may present a danger to the child. Because the courts expect spouses to support their children’s need to have an ongoing relationship with both parents, they may view unwarranted attempts to secure full custody with suspicion.

Furthermore, some people believe that courts determine custody or visitation primarily in terms of whether a parent has paid child support. Virginia law obligates both parents to provide support to their children, but it does not stipulate that a parent who is late on child support payments should lose their visitation rights.

How a Virginia Beach Attorney Can Help

Virginia courts expect divorcing parents to engage in good-faith efforts to agree about their parenting arrangements before turning to litigation. Legal battles can be protracted and expensive, and the child often pays the greatest cost. Turning to the courts for resolution will result in a judge making decisions on behalf of the family.

If you are struggling to reach an agreement regarding child custody or if you believe negotiations have broken down entirely, a child custody lawyer can provide valuable counsel. An experienced Virginia Beach attorney may be able to ease negotiations or make the litigation process more efficient.

Contact Pincus Goodman, P.C., Today

The experienced child custody lawyers at Pincus Goodman, P.C., will help you navigate every aspect of the Virginia child custody process. We are committed to fighting for your best interests as well as those of your child. Call us today at (757) 301-9634 or contact us online for a consultation.

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