Child custody is one of the biggest issues at stake in many divorces. Virginia residents may have heard that the family court wants what’s best for the children involved, but it can be difficult to understand how a judge arrives at their decisions. The court will take many things into account in making a determination. This can include research showing what helps children grow into successful adults. There are also guidelines and definitions in Virginia state law that guide judges.
Virginia’s law code
In state law code, there’s a section about best interests of the child regarding visitation. This section outlines some of the factors the court must take into account when determining which parents will be awarded child custody and which may receive visitation. Some factors include the child’s existing relationships and the parents’ current roles in their lives.
Well-being of the child
In general, courts know that children do better when they have more caring, supportive adults involved in their lives. The court knows that children need help to reach adulthood, and judges support the idea that children often benefit from a relationship with both parents. When parents are a positive presence in a child’s life, the court wants to make sure that they can be as involved as possible. Factors that can count against a parent include playing a small role in the past or any history of abuse.
For children, their relationships with extended family and other siblings will be taken into account. When they’re old enough, their own preference can also be considered by the court.
Overall, the court wants to see children develop in as healthy a manner as possible. From the court’s perspective, the best outcome is the children growing into mentally and physically healthy adult who is socially responsible. This is ultimately what guides their decisions about child custody and visitation.