Child Custody and Visitation in Virginia: Best Interests of a Child and Factor 4

We mentioned in our prior post about the best interests of the child test and the list of ten factors that a Court must consider in determining who to award custody and visitation of a child.

As we stated before, anytime parents or grandparents find themselves in contested custody and visitation litigation, they must consider the ten factors the Court will look at when making a final determination for custody and visitation. Factor # 4 of Virginia Code Section § 20-124.3 deals with a child’s relationship with extended family members, peers and siblings. This can often be a very important factor for a party to consider when trying to determine which evidence to present in order help them the most in their case.

Evidentiary witnesses that can often be beneficial for illustrating facts particular to Factor #4 are teachers, who are able to come in and speak to the child’s relationships with peers; therapists, who can certainly speak to the child’s relationship with others; family members or neighborhood friends that can testify to the child’s interactions that they have observed; as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and sometimes older siblings.

A Court will assuredly consider is whether or not the child has siblings and if so, what is the relationship between each sibling and then what impact the requested custody and visitation changes/requests could have. It is uncommon for judges to separate siblings, although, on occasion there are situations and facts which merit the same.

In addition, in cases where grandparents have, perhaps, been primary caretakers for children, this factor certainly can weigh heavily in the Court’s review and consideration of the factors as the child often has formed deep bonds with their grandparents or other non-parent caregiver. If you have questions about custody and visitation in Virginia, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at or (804) 423-1382.  We would like to help.