Best Interests of A Child: Relationship Between Parent and Child (Factor 3)

For the third installment in our series on ten factors that make up the best interests of the child standard in determining custody and visitation, we look at the following factor enumerated in Virginia Code § 20-124.3 :

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.

This factor looks in detail at the parent- child relationship. Things a judge may consider are who put the child to bed each evening, helps with homework, disciplines the child, takes the child to sports or ballet, etc. It’s an all-encompassing look into how the parent interacts with the child. It can be an excellent opportunity to show the judge how much involvement a parent has with the child, or conversely, how little the parent has to do with the child. The more involved a parent appears to be, the better the odds of a favorable award of custody and visitation. This does not mean however that the stay at home parent has an automatic preference over a working parent. The statute also states a judge must look at the ability to meet the emotional and physical needs of the child. This in part takes into account the ability to provide appropriate food and clothing for a child- something that a working parent provides funds for. This factor can also be even more important if one parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, he or she may not be able to meet the basic physical or emotional needs of the child.

The Value of Witnesses

Good witnesses for this factor can be daycare providers, children’s teacher and counselors, and extended family members and friends who can testify to the child’s behavior around each parent, and what each parent does for the child in a variety of situations. If you are the non-custodial parent, make sure you achieve daily contact with the child if possible, attend all school conferences, try to alternate taking the child to therapy or counseling sessions, and try, if possible, to schedule one on one time with the child in order to prove that despite not being in the same home, the child is equally attached to you as to the primary caregiver.

For help with your Family Law matter, contact the lawyers of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at 804.423.1382.