Determining the custody and visitation of the child is one of the bitterest parts of any divorce. In deciding which parent (or both) gets custody, the court takes into account a multitude of factors as per custody and visitation law in Virginia. In almost every court in every state, the standard is: “The best interests of the child.” When deciding custody issues – this is one aspect that receives the highest priority.
But what criteria precisely determine the “best interests of the child”?
According to custody and visitation Law in Virginia, the courts usually take into account following factors while making the child custody and visitation decision:
- The child’s age, sex, and physical and mental health
- The physical as well as mental health of the parent
- The lifestyle of the parent and other social factors, inclusive whether the child is exposed to secondhand smoke and any past child abuse
- The parent’s ability to provide food for the child, shelter, clothing, and medical care
- The emotional attachment between the parent and the child, as well as the parent’s ability to give guidance to the child
- The established pattern of the child’s life (school, home, community, religious institution)
- The quality of the child’s education
- The impact of changing the state of affairs in the minor’s daily routine, and
- The preference of the minor, if the minor is above a certain age (usually at twelve).
In several cases, there are no clear answers in determining which parent “exceeds in rank,” the other is complying with these custody factors as per custody and visitation law in Virginia. Each one can be equally (or almost) trained in providing the child’s prosperity and well-being.
In divorce and child custody cases like these, courts focus on which parent will provide the child with the most stable environment, including maintaining a healthy relationship with the other parent. When a child is very small, special attention is given to the parent who was the one who first raised the child. However, with larger children, the parent who is more conveniently able to provide continuity in education, neighborhood life, religious institutions, and a relationship at the same time, may be granted primary custody.
Also, as per custody and visitation law in Virginia, the judge in custody cases will place great weight on whether the child will stay in the house where he grew up and lived as a family, whether he will continue in the same school, participate in his usual activities and generally enjoy his routines normal.
Another factor that comes into play with cases of child custody is when a parent moves out of the house, leaving the child or children with the other spouse. This can adversely affect the chances of the distant father obtaining custody – even if it was to avoid highly unpleasant or dangerous circumstances.
In case the condition is quite volatile, then you should seriously consider accompanying the children, recommends a well-versed attorney adept at custody and visitation law in Virginia. If you do not, the court can correctly assume you considered the options and believed that the other spouse was competent to care for the children – despite the situation between the two parents.