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What does Virginia law say about best interests of the child?


When a couple in Virginia has a child and there is a decision as to child custody and visitation rights, the state will pay great attention to the best interests of the child. The court has numerous factors that it will consider when making the decision regarding child custody. Parents who are in the midst of a case regarding child custody or are having a dispute need to know about these factors as the case commences.

The court will take the following into account: the child's age and mental and physical condition with significant impact on the way the child's developmental needs will change; how old the parents are and what their physical and mental condition is; the relationship between the parents and the child with focus on positive involvement with the child and the ability to determine and adhere to the child's all-encompassing needs; and the child's needs with the relationships the child has taken into consideration.

In addition, the court will examine: the role that the parents will have in the future when it comes to the child's care and upbringing; if the parents will support the child having contact with the other parent and if there were unreasonable denials of visitation from one parent to the other; if there is a willingness and demonstration of the parents having a relationship with children and the ability on the part of the parents to cooperate; the child's preferences if he or she is deemed mature enough and intelligent enough to weigh in; if there was any abuse; and other factors that are considered important.

With child custody and visitation rights, it can be a complex and difficult series of issues to deal with. Parents who are having a custody dispute or are concerned about child custody agreements should make sure they have a strong legal foundation for their position and adhere to what is in the child's interests.

Source: law.lis.virginia.gov, "20-124.3 Best interests of the child; visitation.," accessed on May 30, 2016

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