Establishing child custody can be a challenge during a divorce. In many instances, courts often make decisions based on a variety of factors.
While a judge’s perception can determine the outcome, there are a few key factors they look at when making their decision.
Here in Virginia, courts can give significant weight to a child’s best wishes before deciding who their custodial parent is. At the same time, the noncustodial parent is typically entitled to visitation rights with their children, unless they pose a significant threat to their wellbeing.
Factors courts consider when making a decision
Typically, a court’s standard for acceptable living is usually based on the child’s preferences and each parent’s capabilities. Here are a few things a judge may consider:
- Age of the children: As they get older, children typically need to have more space and privacy than younger ones. If the kids are in their early adolescence, a court may not look favorably upon a parent who only has one bedroom for them and their other siblings to share.
- Parent’s circumstances: In many cases, judges take a parent’s age and financial status into consideration during custody hearings. When it comes to a child’s overall wellbeing, the judge may give primary custody to the parent who is more mentally and financially stable.
- The child’s ability to adjust: Children don’t often like change and divorce can uproot their lives in ways unimaginable. If one parent moves to a smaller home than the child is accustomed to, courts might evaluate how those changes could impact them psychologically.
- The child’s overall safety: Sometimes, one parent can’t afford to live in as nice of an area as the other. If the less affluent parent can only afford an apartment in a less desirable part of town, a judge may limit the number of overnight visits the child can have with the noncustodial parent.
Putting the child’s best interests first
While divorce can change when and how often parents see their children. It’s essential to provide them with the love and support they need during a tough transition for them. Both parents can do so by keeping their children’s best interest in mind when making custody decisions.