In the Commonwealth of Virginia the local Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court handles determinations of child custody and visitation. Based on statute, the court considers the “best interest of the child” when deciding matters of custody and visitation between two parents. This is based upon the best interest factors outlined in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. Factors considered by the court include the age, mental and physical health of the child, income and well-being of the parents, the siblings present in the custodial parents home, and other factors.
It is important to understand that many judges place varying weight on individual factors. Additionally, a guardian ad litem, may find one factor more important than another. A good attorney will know what factors both the judge and guardian ad litem find most important, and if possible, argue those factors in the best light possible to the judge.
A parent or guardian should also be prepared to comply with conditions that the court puts in place. This may require a review date within six months of the initial custody and visitation determination. Importantly, denying visitation to a non-custodial parent during a review period can result in negative outcomes at a review hearing.
If you have questions regarding child custody and visitations make sure to hire an attorney who will argue the best interest factors in the best light possible considering what factors a judge considers most important. Contact Brandon C. Waltrip, or one of the attorneys at Collins | Waltrip, PC if you have questions about child custody.