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What factors are used to decide child custody cases in Virginia?

When you are going through a child custody case, you might feel like you are going through a very stressful situation. One of the reasons why these are so difficult is because you want your child to have the best life possible. You probably already have some ideas about what will give your child the best life possible. As you move through the custody case, you should be aware of what the judge is looking for as he or she decides on the matters at hand.

What are the basic factors for child custody?

Some of the basic factors for child custody in Virginia include the relationship of the child with each parent, the willingness of the parents to have a relationship with the child, the willingness of the parents to work together, the needs and best interest of the child and the mental condition of all parties involved. The age of the parents and child, as well as any domestic abuse are also considered in child custody cases. Finally, the willingness and ability of each parent to encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent is also considered.

Can my child tell the judge what he or she wants?

It is up to the judge to consider what a child wants. The child's age plays a part in this decision. A child who is 14 years old or older have to be asked what they want. Children who are under 7 years old usually aren't asked. Children who fall in the middle of those ages might be asked, depending on the judge's preference.

Are there any circumstances that might affect the judge's decision?

Drug and alcohol abuse and use by the parents are considered. The composition of the parent's home, meaning adults of the opposite sex living in the home, is considered. Criminal convictions, mental health, CPS complaints that were founded and any impairments are also considered.

Going through a child custody battle isn't pleasant. Working with someone familiar with the system might help you to learn how to adequately present your side of the case when the time is right.

Source: Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc., "Child Custody and Child Visitation" accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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