In the past, it was standard in courts across the country for mothers to get primary custody of children in a divorce and for the fathers to get visitation. Often, the children would live with the mother most of the time and they’d see their fathers one day a week and every other weekend – something to that effect. But now that it’s the 21st Century, a lot has changed in the realm of child custody law.
With so many women in the workforce and more (and more) stay-at-home fathers than ever before, the child custody laws nationwide have shifted and they are now reflecting a gender-neutral climate. In other words, when it comes to child custody, fathers are receiving equal consideration, especially when both parents are seeking custody.
How Does the Judge Decide on Custody?
In most Virginia divorces, the parents will decide on a child custody agreement with the help of their respective divorce attorneys. However, not all parents agree and sometimes both parents seek custody. In these situations, a judge has to decide on child custody.
Virginia judges look at a number of factors when deciding on custody. If you’re a father who is seeking custody, your chances are not any less because you’re not the children’s mother. What matters is the role you’ve already played in the child’s life, and the role you will be playing in the child’s future upbringing. Additionally, the judge will consider:
- The age of your child.
- The age and health of each parent.
- The relationship between each parent and your child.
- The child’s specific needs.
- The child’s best interests.
- Any history of alcoholism, drug abuse, or prescription drug abuse.
- Any history of domestic violence.
- Any history of mental illness or criminal conduct.
- Each parent’s willingness to encourage continuous contact with the child and the other parent.
- Each parent’s willingness to maintain a close relationship with their son or daughter.
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate and resolve conflicts.
What Factors Could Influence the Judge?
The negative factors that can influence a judge for a mother are the same as those that can paint a father in a negative light. If your child’s mother has a substance abuse problem, if she abuses prescription drugs, has criminal convictions, has been committed to a mental health hospital, or if she have CPS complaints against her, or if she has committed adultery or lived with a man when not married, these can all influence the judge’s decision.
Are you a parent who is anticipating a child custody dispute in Fairfax, Virginia? If so, we urge you to contact our firm immediately for help.