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Factors used by judges to make child custody decisions

People going through divorces in Virginia have to make many very difficult decisions during a very emotional period of time in their lives. It is not easy to separate a life that the two had built together. In many instances people are not leaving on the best of terms either and may be upset with the other spouse because of what led to the divorce. This emotion may affect all of the decisions that people make and make it difficult to reach compromises on the various issues that need to be resolved.

If the spouses are not able to reach agreements on the issues, ultimately the decisions will be made by a judge. In making the various decisions, the judges will analyze the specific facts of the marriage which are presented to them at a trial. They will then apply the various laws and cases to the facts to determine the outcome. The type of analysis the judge will use depends on the decision they are making at the time. When making child custody and visitation decisions they will analyze various factors to determine what is in the children’s best interest.

There are a number of factors that they will analyze which include, but are not limited to, the physical and mental conditions of the children and parents; each parent’s relationship with the children and their ability to properly care for the children; the child’s relationship with siblings and other family members; the preference of the child depending on their age and maturity; each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship with the other parent and their ability to work together; whether there has been abuse or substance abuse issues and other relevant factors.

Child custody decisions can be one of the most emotional decisions that are made during a divorce. They are also very fact-specific and there are not bright line rules to help judges make the decisions. Hopefully parents can avoid leaving this decision up to a judge, but ultimately if they cannot agree a judge will need to make the decision for them. These are very complicated matters and consulting with an experienced attorney could be beneficial.