In child custody cases in Virginia, the child can express a preference at a certain age and certain circumstances. Also, a child can have representation by way of a guardian ad litem unto which in deciding what is best for that child.
If the court decides that what the child wants is not the same as what is in the child’s best interest, the court is required to decide based on the interest, even if that decision is contrary to the preference expressed by the child. There are many elements of the best interest rule in Virginia that a judge will take into consideration when determining the best custody arrangement for the child in question.
If you are currently going through child custody proceedings and are looking for representation, it is critical you consult with an experienced attorney immediately.
Determining the Best Interest
As a child grows up, scenarios change. Over the years, these children are growing, learning, and becoming individuals of their own. There is a number of ways that the elements of the best interest rule in Virginia can change and warrant a modification in the custody schedule.
As a child grows and becomes older, they are going to develop new needs and interests. It may be that the custody arrangement that was determined by the court originally does not fit for the same children, as they are growing and changing.
Additionally, as time passes after the initial separation and initial custody order, the lives of the children’s parents can change which can have an impact on their needs. For example, if one or both parents remarry or if a parent has new children, the court might want to change the schedule to enable a greater fostering of a relationship between the children and their new siblings.
As life changes and children’s needs change, what is in their best interests in terms of custody can change as well.
Pitfalls of the Rule
One of the elements of the best interest rule in Virginia that most commonly causes issues is relocation. That is a situation where one parent wants to relocate the children out of the area to another location.
This can occur as a result of a new job opportunity or a new marriage. When a parent goes to court and says to the judge that they want to relocate the children and it is in the children’s best interest, that is a situation that can be rather unpredictable in the court and can provide somewhat of a pitfall.
To even have a chance of being granted permission to relocate the children out of the area, a parent has to be able to show an independent benefit to the child. A new job with increased pay does not necessarily, in the court’s eyes, translate into the best interests of the children in Virginia.
Cases where a party is seeking to relocate the children can result in or involve some pitfalls when it comes to the children’s best interests in Virginia. The parents may think that the new location provides new opportunities and better opportunities for the children, but it does not necessarily agree with what their outcome of that case is going to be.