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How do the Virginia courts handle custody disputes?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2022 | Family Law

Parents have a permanent bond through their children. Even if their relationship falls apart, they will still need to work together to raise their children. Too many parents lose sight of this fact when their relationships decline and do real harm to themselves and sometimes their children while arguing about custody matters.

Co-parenting can be a challenge, and many parents struggle with those shared responsibilities, especially in the early months after the end of their relationship. For most families, sharing parenting time and other responsibilities to the children will be the logical outcome when the relationship between the parents ends.

Although it is preferable for parents to reach their own custody agreements, the family courts can settle disputes or create parenting plans for those struggling to adjust to their new family dynamics. What ultimately determines the outcome of custody matters litigated in Virginia family court?

The children are the focus in all custody decisions

Too many parents make their custody disputes about themselves and don’t think about the impact on their children. They can hurt their own case in court by making the focus of all of their claims what they want rather than what is best for the children. Doing so can actually make them look like a less fit and dedicated parent in the eyes of a family law judge.

State statutes in Virginia require that a judge make choices that are in the best interests of the children. Typically, that standard requires that judges keep both parents involved with the children to the largest extent possible. However, if one parent has a bad relationship with the children or has displayed serious instability issues in the past, the other parent could ask for more parenting time or decision-making authority because they are better able to meet the children’s needs.

Alcoholism, the abuse of prescription or illegal drugs and documented physical abuse issues are all reasons why one parent could ask for more time with and authority over the children in a custody matter. Whether you ask for sole custody or just for more decision-making authority, you will typically need records and evidence supporting your claims about what is best for the kids.

Building your case will typically require evidence, but if you understand how judges make custody decisions, you will have a better idea of what you can request and how to present your case to maximize your chances of success.