Child custody and visitation issues are among the most challenging and highly contested issues in divorce proceedings. This makes sense, as most parents are far more concerned with their children than they are with any property or financial stakes shared with their former spouse. If you are embroiled in a custody and visitation dispute, it is critical for you to work with a skilled child custody and visitation lawyer who fully understands the law and has the experience to work with your individual needs and goals.
The Charlottesville Child Custody & Visitation Lawyers of MartinWren, P.C. have vast experience representing clients through the difficult legal issues that arise during child visitation and custody matters. We will take the time to truly understand your unique circumstances and to fully explain the legal parameters that are involved.
Judges in Virginia tasked with making decisions regarding child custody must be governed by a simple standard — what is in the best interests of the child. What constitutes the “best interests of the child,” however, depends on a number of statutory factors, which are contained in Virginia Code § 20-124.3, as follows:
In determining the best interests of a child for purposes of crafting custody or visitation arrangements, including any pendente lite orders pursuant to § 20-103, the court shall consider the following:
- The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs;
- The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
- The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child’s life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child;
- The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members;
- The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child;
- The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;
- The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference;
- Any history of family abuse as that term is defined in § 16.1-228 or sexual abuse. If the court finds such a history, the court may disregard the factors in subdivision 6; and
- Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.
The judge shall communicate to the parties the basis of the decision either orally or in writing.
Va. Code § 20-124.3 (2009).
MartinWren, P.C.’s Charlottesville child custody lawyers and child visitation lawyers have extensive experience representing individuals in custody and visitation matters of all complexity, both in circuit court and in juvenile and domestic relations district court. We primarily represent clients in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the surrounding counties of Greene, Louisa, Nelson, Fluvanna, and Orange, and we occasionally represent select clients across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
If you need additional information or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our child custody and visitation attorneys, please call William C. “Scotty” Scott or John B. Simpson at (434) 817-3100.