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Best Interest of the Child Factors: What are they?

If you find yourself involved in a custody and/or visitation case, chances are you’re going to hear the phrase “best interest of the child” more than once! If you’re a parent or caretaker of child and you're facing a contested custody and/or visitation matter, you may think to yourself, “I know exactly what's in my child's best interest;” however, what you think is in your child's best interest and what a judge thinks is in your child's best interest, may be quite different. The Code of Virginia Section 20-124.3, appropriately titled “Best Interests of the Child; Visitation,” provides a detailed list of “factors” that all Virginia judges must consider when determining what is in a child’s best interest in all contested trials.

In total, there are ten “best interest” factors. Many of the factors are based, not only on the child’s unique physical and emotional needs, but also upon matters concerning each parent or caretaker. For instance, your ability to meet your child’s needs, co-parent to resolve disagreements, and encourage the relationship meaningfully and effectively between your child and the other parent, will be part of considerations the judge will use to determine a final custody and/or visitation award. Importantly, although the factors are collectively a specific list of considerations for each judge to examine, the final factor (number 10) states, “Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.” This factor serves as a “catch all” provision to cover anything that may not be specifically addressed in the other factors. Practically, this means everything matters when a judge must determine what is in your child’s best interest. That's why it is so important in any contested custody and/or visitation matter to seek sound legal advice.

If you are considering going to court regarding your child’s custody and/or visitation, or if you need help in a pending contested custody and/or visitation case, our experienced attorneys at Morris Williams LLC – A Family Law Firm are here to empower you to make the best decisions throughout. Contact us to today to schedule your consultation at (757) 226-9425 or via email at admin@morriswilliamslaw.com.

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