Custody disputes are some of the most difficult cases for families. Sometimes two individuals who are great parents will get into nasty battles to spend as much time as possible with their children. Other times you have a parent who is trying to use the children against the other. More often than not the situation falls somewhere in between those two scenarios. Wherever your current dispute falls on the spectrum, we understand that it is as unique to you and your case as are your children.

The Court is charged with making a custody ruling based on what is in the best interest of the children and Virginia law presumes that it is best for a child to stay with their parents. The Court is required to consider and may award joint legal, joint physical, or sole custody to the parents. One form of custody is not assumed to be better than the other.

The Court is required to ensure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents when appropriate. The Court is also required to encourage parents to share the responsibilities of rearing their children.


When a Court makes a determination on behalf of the children it considers ten factors. Bare with us as we get a little technical. The ten factors considered are:

  • The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs
  • The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
  • The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child’s life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of the child
  • The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers, and extended family members
  • The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child
  • The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child
  • The relative willingness and demonstrated the ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference
  • Any history of family abuse that meets the criteria found in the statute
  • Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination

It is vital to be smart about your custody cases. Understanding the law in Virginia regarding custody is one of the first steps to take in resolving your dispute. Another step is hiring an attorney at Phillips & Peters that can help you navigate the challenges that come with these difficult battles.

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