One of the biggest disagreements between parents that can arise, particularly as children get older, relates to extracurricular activities. As children get older and get into higher grades in school, they oftentimes start taking on extracurricular activities, such as sports, musical instruments, or dance. These things are going to be occurring on weekends and evenings, which is the parent’s time with the children.
The common thing that comes into play is when a child starts adding these activities to their schedule and interfering with the time of one parent or the other. It can give rise to some disputes between the parents in terms of responsibilities to get the child to and from these activities and whether or not a change in the custody in time-sharing is appropriate.
If you are in a child custody agreement in Virginia and are looking to amend your agreement based on your child’s age, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to best explain the effect of your child’s age on your Virginia child custody agreement and how to ensure the custody proceedings are ruled in the favor of you and your child.
Approaching the Issues
The best way to approach such issues is for each parent to consider what they think that the new arrangement should be, and then for the two of them to sit down, hear each other, and try and come to some compromise. The compromise should be focused on the children’s needs more than the parent’s needs, even if it means that one parent might be foregoing a little bit of time to allow their child to become a well-rounded individual.
If the parties cannot resolve it, they could always go to a mediator, who is an independent third party, who can help people in conflict come to a compromise. Otherwise, they are going to be left with the option of litigation, which should always be a last resort relating to custody. A mediator can explain the effect that the child’s age may have on the changing custody agreement in Virginia.
Impact of Age
The age of the child can directly impact how many out-of-school activities they are going to have. There is a provision in the Virginia Code that allows for a child to express their preference as part of a court’s consideration on custody.
The age when the child is usually allowed to express a preference is around age 12. That is not guaranteed that the Court will hear from a child when they are 12 because the court is also required to consider the maturity level of the child and other things that would impact whether that child should have a say.
This does not necessarily mean that the child expresses a preference to a judge and the judge is going to do what that child asks. But as a child gets older, they may have the opportunity to express a preference in terms of a custody dispute.