Sometimes divorcing parents in Virginia are able to negotiate a settlement regarding child custody and visitation issues out of court, while other times they cannot reach an agreement and turn to a judge to make the decisions. The court, in doing so, will base its decision on the best interests of the child. When determining what the child's best interests are, the court will consider a number of factors.
For example, the court may consider the child's age and developmental needs. Each parent's age and health may also be considered. The parents' positive involvement in the child's life and relationship with the child may be considered. The court may also consider the child's relationships with others, such as brothers and sisters, friends and relatives. Each parent's role in caring for the child both now and in the future is an additional consideration.
Each parent's ability to support the child's relationship with their ex will be considered, especially if one parent has unreasonably tried to keep the child away from their ex. The parents' ability to keep a close and constant relationship with the child, and their ability to cooperate with one another when issues arise may be considered.
If the child is able to express a reasonable preference with regard to child custody and visitation, that preference may be considered. Whether there has been family abuse or sexual abuse in the past will be considered. Finally, the court will consider any other factors needed to make an appropriate decision.
Child custody decisions can affect both the child and their parents for the rest of their lives. For this reason, the court will closely examine each case to determine how to meet the best interests of the child. In this way, it is possible to reach a decision that benefits all involved.