After two successful family law victories this week for our clients, we have decided to highlight one of the most commonly asked questions: How do courts decide child custody cases and what does the “best interests of the child” standard actually mean?
Under the Virginia Code, specifically Section 20-124.3, judges consider several factors before making a judgment to grant, change, or modify a custody and visitation arrangement.
In fact, courts look at:
- The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs;
- The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
- The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child’s life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child;
- The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members;
- The role which each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child;
- The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;
- The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference;
- Any history of family abuse; and
- Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.
While none of these factors are most important, judges will carefully consider these before making custody decisions and weigh them accordingly.
When it comes to something as important as the well-being of your children, you are best served by having a qualified family law attorney to represent you in Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court.
If you are in need of a child custody and visitation attorney in Norfolk or through out Hampton Roads, contact LeCruise Law.