Thursday, January 10, 2013

Determining custody in Virginia

In Virginia, we have a standard called the best interests of the children for determining custody.  This means when a court has custody before it, whether it's through a divorce proceeding or otherwise, the Court must look at what the best interests of the children are before they determine the custody and visitation arrangements.

Now the question is, what does "best interests of the child" mean?

Virginia has a statute setting out what factors should be considered in determining the best interests of the children.  The Courts MUST consider all of the following factors: age and physical and mental condition of each child, age and physical and mental condition of each parent, the relationship between the child and the parent, the needs of the child, the role that each parent has played and will play in the upbringing of the child, the propensity of each parent to promote the relationship between the child and the other parent, the ability and desire of each parent to maintain a close relationship with the child, the preferences of the child, if reasonable and appropriate, any history of family abuse and any other factor the court deems necessary.

These factors, theoretically, should provide an overall picture of the child's life and environments with both parents.  Custody is always a difficult issue; however, I hope this provides some insight into what a judge takes into account when deciding the custody arrangement for your children.