child custodyFew legal issues may become as messy and complicated as custody determinations.  If parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, courts then have the task of deciding where, how, and by whom the child or children in question will be raised.  Courts take this task very seriously and, according to Virginia law, focus on one main factor when making custody and visitation decisions: the best interests of the child.  In examining the best interests of the child, courts may have to dig deep into the details of each parent’s personal and financial lives, which can be uncomfortable to say the least.  A Virginia child custody attorney can help protect your parental rights while trying to make the process as easy as possible.

“Cases involving child custody issues are among the most delicate cases that family law firms will ever handle”

–        Sean Smallwood, ESQ., attorney at The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A.

What does “best interests of the child” mean?

Virginia courts favor joint custody whenever possible, since divorce does not necessarily affect your parental rights.  However, the court will always try to determine what custody situation is in the best interest of the child.  Courts try to remain as objective as possible when doing so, and consider factors such as:

  • The age, physical health, and mental condition of the child;
  • The emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of the child and the ability of each parent to fulfill them;
  • The age, physical health, and mental condition of each parent;
  • The role each parent has previously played in the child’s life, including existing emotional relationships;
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage relationships with the other parent and to cooperate with each other regarding decisions for the child;
  • Any history of domestic abuse or sexual abuse in the family;
  • The child’s preference, if the court believes the child is old enough to sufficiently understand the nature of this decision;
  • Any other factors that the court deems necessary.

If you are facing a custody battle, the well-being of your child and your relationship with your child are both at stake.  For this reason, you always want to have an experienced family law attorney on your side.  Do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger today for help.

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