Best Interests of The Child: Age, Physical and Mental Condition (Factor 1)

This factor takes into account four separate aspects of a child. The age, physical, and mental condition of each child will be considered by the Court. Very young children tend to have needs revolving around proper bonding time with each parent, proper nutrition( perhaps through breastfeeding and accompanying timing constraints on visitation), and proper developmental growth (pre-school, etc.) Visitation schedules for young children tend to take into account these very basic needs and can be very flexible given the fact the child is not enrolled in kindergarten and beyond. Older elementary age children tend to have the same basic needs as young children but with increased need for stability and academic support as they begin and continue with formal education. Visitation schedules tend to identify one parent as a primary caregiver and residence, given the child’s need for continuity during the academic year. By the time a child reaches high school, the focus shifts to ensuring support for continued academic success, an ability to prevent illegal drug use by the child, and proper adult role models for behavior as the child becomes an adult.

How to make this factor work in your interest? First, teachers make excellent witnesses for your ability to provide for your child’s changing developmental needs. Be active in preschool through high school and be able to document your involvement with your child’s academic journey. Show calendars with back to school nights, teacher conferences, etc. Be able to describe steps you take at home to encourage the child’s continued growth and development- age appropriate games, activities, etc. Second, pediatricians make good witnesses for your ability to provide for your child’s wellbeing and physical and mental health. Don’t forget school counselors and therapists who also speak with your child as they can provide insight into the child’s mental well being. If your child is not currently seeing a mental health specialist and you believe it would help him or her cope, facilitate such meetings and participate as needed. If your child is part of the growing special needs community, be sure to document and provide the court with the extra steps you’re taking to ensure growth and success for that child.

To discuss your child custody, child visitation, child support issue, or other family law matter, contact the experienced attorneys at Richmond based Winslow & McCurry, PLLC.