How is Child Custody Determined?

When parents divorce or separate, they will have to determine a child custody agreement. Some parents can create an agreeable parenting plan outside of court, but for other’s, this process can be complicated when they cannot agree on a set plan. In this case, a court will need to be involved in determining custody.

Virginia courts determine custody by examining what arrangement will benefit the child the most. It is crucial to understand what courts look at when determining custody so you can prepare for your trial. Here is what you need to be aware of if you decide to pursue legal action in court.

What Courts Look at When Determining Custody

Virginia courts follow the “best interests of the child” standard. Essentially, the court will look at the child’s current situation and determine which custody arrangement will be the most beneficial to the child. Parents will typically have to present evidence that shows what the child’s life is like and how it will be in the future.

The court will examine the case and base their custody decision on what will be in the child’s best interest. Virginia courts consider the following when they determine custody:

  • The parent's efforts to obtain or maintain legal and physical custody of the child
  • Whether or not the parents are willing and able to assume full custody
  • Whether or not the parents can properly care for the child
  • The child’s wishes if they are of a sufficient age (typically children age 12 or older)
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and the parents
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and siblings
  • The child’s current living situation
  • How physical custody could potentially affect the child
  • Any other circumstances that the court deems reasonable

Factors That May Hurt Your Chances of Custody

Another thing to consider is how you might be hurting your chances at custody. Even though you may be an excellent parent, there are things you may be doing that a judge will see as reasons not to award you custody. Engaging in any of the following behaviors may harm your case:

  • Not taking an interest in your child’s needs and interests
  • Fighting with or speaking negatively about the other parent to the child
  • Disobeying court orders
  • Missing court hearings
  • Not fulfilling financial and parental responsibilities
  • Not cooperating or compromising with the other parent
  • Posting inappropriate content on social media
  • Abusing alcohol or illegal substances

How We Can Help You

The custody of your children should be handled with extreme caution and care to ensure your child is protected and safe. The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller understands that this is a difficult time in your life, and we want to help you through it. Our expert family law attorney can examine your case and help you gather favorable evidence that can increase your chance of getting custody of your children.

You don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your children, contact our firm today at (757) 517-2942!