best interests of the child for virginia

According to Virginia Code, in any case involving minor children, whether in circuit or district court, the court shall provide early adjudication, after proper review of all the circumstances, of custody and visitation arrangements, including support and maintenance for the children, prior to considering other issues in the case.

In determining custody, the court shall prioritize the child’s best interests.

When assessing what is in a child’s best interests in order to determine custody or visitation arrangements, including any pendente lite orders, the court must take into account the following factors: VA Code § 20-124.3

  1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs;
  2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child;
  6. 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;
  7. The relative willingness and demonstrated 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;
  8. 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;
  9. Any history of family abuse or sexual abuse. If the court finds such a history, the court may disregard the factors in subdivision 6; and
  10. Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

The court shall consider and may grant joint legal, joint physical, or sole custody, and no type of custody shall be presumed to be preferable. When appropriate, the court shall ensure that minor children maintain regular and continuing contact with both parents and urge parents to partake in the responsibility of child upbringing.

If a party willfully fails to comply with the provisions of an order, the court shall have the authority and jurisdiction to issue any additional orders necessary to carry out and enforce the order. The court shall have the authority and jurisdiction to punish that party for contempt of court for that willful failure to comply.

Adoption Dispute

Adoption proceedings and name changes for minor children may be initiated only by petition to a circuit court in the county or city where the petitioner resides, in the county or city where the child-placing agency that placed the child is located, or in the county or city where a birth parent executed a consent pursuant (See VA Code § 63.2-1201)

In an adoption dispute, the state of Virginia considers the following factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child: VA Code § 63.2-1205

  1. The birth parent(s)’ efforts to obtain or maintain legal and physical custody of the child;
  2. Whether the birth parent(s) are currently willing and able to assume full custody of the child;
  3. Whether the birth parent(s)’ efforts to assert parental rights were thwarted by other people;
  4. The birth parent(s)’ ability to care for the child;
  5. The age of the child;
  6. The quality of any previous relationship between the birth parent(s) and the child and between the birth parent(s) and any other minor children
  7. The duration and suitability of the child’s present custodial environment;
  8. The effect of a change of physical custody on the child.