As with other states, Virginia courts give primary attention to the best interests of the child rather than an individual parent when awarding custody. The court may award either joint or sole custody depending on the needs of the child. However, unlike many other states, Virginia custody law does not create a presumption in favor of either parent.
What factors play a role in determining a custody arrangement?
When issuing a custody order, the factors which a Virginia court may consider include, but are not limited to:
- The basic background of the child such as their age as well as mental and physical disposition
- Considerations regarding the child’s developmental needs, which often change over time
- Each parent’s existing relationship with the child, focusing especially on their positive contributions to the child’s welfare and happiness
- The parent’s willingness to encourage and facilitate ongoing contact between the child and their non-custodial parent
- Any previous instances and history of child abuse or neglect
- The preferences or decisions of the child, if the court finds that they are of a reasonable age to make competent and well-informed choices
What else should I know about Virginia child custody laws?
The state of Virginia encourages parents to share in child-rearing responsibilities. Except in situations where the child’s safety is in question, the parents are expected to cooperate with one another and encourage continuous contact between all parties. This means that the parents should resolve past and future conflicts when possible, in order to preserve the best interests of the child.
Do I need Virginia Lawyer for my Child Custody claim in?
Child custody decisions can be complex and the process can often cover a long period of time. For this reason it is to your advantage to secure the services of a lawyer, especially if custody will be heavily disputed. Furthermore, a competent Virginia child custody lawyer can keep you updated with any changes in laws and adjustments in the status of the custody claim.