There are few decisions that impact a parent’s daily life or that are more emotionally driven than determining which parent a child will live with and how often the non-custodial parent, the parent that the child does not live with primarily, will see their child. A child custody lawyer in Prince William County can offer their expertise and compassion in navigating the courts in this process.

While most parents intend to make custodial decisions based on love and the child’s best interests, there may still be disputes over what the child’s best interests are and who is best fit to accommodate them.

Additionally, when the relationship between parents is contentious, one or both parents may get carried away reacting in anger or frustration.  Sometimes the child ends up caught in the conflict.

When parents are forced to make plans that include living without their child for any period of time, it is important to seek legal counsel from Prince William County family attorneys that have the experience to resolve difficult child custody disputes as quickly as possible.

Best Interest of the Child

”Best interests of the child”, is the standard by which Virginia courts make custodial decisions. The goal of this standard is to create an environment where the child will thrive, feel safe, and have security.

In general, child psychologists find that children who have relationships with both parents are happier and healthier. Accordingly, most courts, including Prince William County courts, attempt to create a parenting plan that allows the child to maintain close relationships with both of their parents. A Prince William County child custody attorney has an understanding of what shapes the court’s decision and help the individual present their position in the best format possible.

In assessing the child’s best interests, the court considers the age of the child, the physical condition and age of the parent, the relationship between each of the parents and the child, and the needs of the child, which may include the child’s relationship to siblings and extended family.

The court also considers each parent’s role in the child’s upbringing, the likelihood of the parent supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent, and each parent’s willingness to cooperatively co-parent, among other factors set forth in Virginia law.

Child Custody Arrangements

Legal custody provides parents the right to make decisions about their child’s education, religious upbringing, and medical treatment in non-emergency situations. In Virginia, legal custody is generally granted jointly, which permits both parents the right to be involved in making determinations about those issues.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives for the majority of the year. It is possible for both parents to have joint legal custody, even when the child’s primary home is with one parent. Where the child lives during the majority of the year does not alter the non-residential parent’s legal custody.

Sole legal custody may be awarded to one parent when the parties cannot or will not co-parent. In a sole custody arrangement, only one parent has the right to make major decisions affecting the child, even if the other parent disagrees with those decisions These determinations are not made casually, and if sole custody is granted it is because compelling evidence has been presented showing that it shared legal custody is not an arrangement that will benefit the child.

While this custody plan may limit one parent’s decision-making power, it does not necessarily impact the custody or visitation parameters, and a child custody lawyer in Prince William County can help you achieve the best results possible based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Getting Proper Legal Representation

Ultimately, there is not necessarily a preferred parent, schedule or family style from the Court’s perspective because each case must be reviewed individually and the needs of each child may be different from case to case

A skilled Prince William County child custody lawyer can help you present your case in the best light to establish the custodial arrangement that you feel is best for your child or children.