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What should I know about the best interests factors?

Parents who are facing divorce may be concerned about losing custody and being relegated to “weekend parents,” where they only see their kids on alternating weekends and a spare night during the week. Indeed, Virginia family court judges are charged with making custody decisions based on the factors set forth in Virginia Code §20-124.3, also known as the best interest factors.

Indeed, there are a number of factors that can make up a custody decision, but as a concerned parent, you want to know just how judges use them. While it is not legal advice, this post will provide some insight.

The importance of the status quo – Family court judges do not like disrupting a child’s life or uprooting a child from his or her current home. This means that it is unlikely that a child will be moved from one home to another unless there are extenuating circumstances creating such a need.

Who is the primary caregiver – The court will also want to know which parent is primarily responsible for day-to-day care and decision-making, including educational involvement, medical decisions, as well as morning and bedtime routines.

Which parent is more likely to foster a co-parenting relationship – Even if one parent checks all the proverbial “boxes” as an ideal parent to have primary custody, it may be immaterial if the parent is unlikely to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent.

If you have questions about how these and other factors may apply to you, an experienced family law attorney can advise you. 

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