When a child's parents divorce, transitioning from being part of a couple to being single presents certain challenges. However, no matter how they are handling the split personally, parents should make sure that their child's physical, mental and emotional needs are still being met. For this reason, when courts in Virginia make child custody decisions, the standard they use is the best interests of the child. To determine what a child's best interests are, the court will take into account certain factors.
The court might consider the child's age and health, along with the child's future development. The age and health of each parent may also be considered. Each parent's current relationship with the child may be considered with regard to how the parent is involved in the child's life in a positive manner, and whether the parent is able to assess and meet the child's needs physically, intellectually and emotionally.
The child's relationship with their siblings, friends and relatives may be considered. In addition, the extent to which the parent has been involved in raising and caring for the child may be considered. Also, the extent to which a parent will be supportive of the child's relationship with their ex, including the possibility that a parent might unreasonably deny the child having a relationship with their ex. Also, each parent's willingness and ability to keep a positive and ongoing relationship with the child and each parent's ability to resolve disagreements with their ex regarding the child may also be considered.
If the child is of an age and intelligence to express an opinion as to where they want to live and if the child understands what such a choice means, this may also be considered. If there has been domestic abuse in the past, this will also be considered. Finally, as a catch-all, the court may consider any other factors needed to reach an appropriate decision.
As this shows, it is important to carefully weigh all the factors when it comes to making child custody decisions. As these decisions can affect children and their parents for the rest of their lives, they should not be rushed into. Parents in such situations may want to seek the help of an attorney, who can explain the child custody and support laws in Virginia.