How does Virginia Protect the Best Interests of the Child in a custody case?

One of the most heartbreaking parts of a separation is when you are a parent of one or more children and your child is left at the mercy of the court. Courts play a very important role in determining the future of these children. According to the law of Virginia, stated in the section 20-124.2 and 124.3 of the title 20 in chapter 6, a court assures that the decision taken is in the best interest of the child, considering all his needs and background of both the parents. The court even makes sure that the child is in continuous contact with both parents if they are willing to schedule visitation, hence, a visitation cannot be canceled by the custodial parent. The primary function of the judges in a child custody case is to announce a ruling in the best interest of the child along with fostering the relationship of the child with both the parents.

The laws in Virginia court for child custody, strongly support the welfare of the young ones, therefore, judges mostly advise the immediate parents to mutually come up with a parenting plan to avoid further emotional and psychological damage to all parties involved. Unfortunately, if the parents are not able to come up with a mutual agreement, the court steps in to determine what is best for the child, taking all the immediate needs of the child, including financial support, emotional support, family/sibling needs, custodial rights and visitation rights, into account.

This article sums up all the possible factors that courts in Virginia consider before finalizing the custodial rights.

What does court mean by “Best Interest of the Child”?

When court is allotting the custody of a child to any parent, the custodial parent has a legal right over the child until the child is a minor. The court is responsible to make the best decision for the child as it is a huge responsibility. The law is known for making decisions based on factual details, therefore, the Virginia law considers few important points before making any decision. This is to protect the child’s future and these determinants will help in deciding who is best suited as a guardian of the child. Although, these factors differ from state to state but they are variable and can differ from case to case. Few most important determinants are listed below, which are considered important by the Virginia Law:

  1. The age of the minor
  2. Mental state and emotional intelligence level of the child
  3. Ages of both the parents
  4. Mental and financial state of both the parents
  5. Role of both the parents in upbringing of their child
  6. Emotional ties of the child with his/her siblings
  7. Willingness of the parents to foster healthy relationship with the other parent
  8. The immediate needs of the child
  9. The character of both the parents, including history of physical or sexual abuse

Therefore, before filing a custody case, it is important for both the parents to understand the legal visitation and custody laws in Virginia and mutually decide the best for their children.