If you’re headed for a contested custody dispute, then you’re probably overwhelmed with stress and the fear of what the outcome of your dispute may be. This is understandable, but you can work to alleviate your concern by thoroughly and aggressively preparing your case.
To do so, you need to keep in mind that the court is going to base its determination on what it thinks is in the child’s best interests. This is a holistic approach that allows the judge to consider a whole host of factors, from the child’s needs to each parent’s physical and financial standing. Practically anything that affects the child and each parent’s ability to care for the child can and will be taken into consideration.
Preparing to address your child’s best interests
Knowing that the court has so much to consider, it can be easy to get lost in the tangle of information that you want to present. That’s why it may be helpful for you to focus your arguments on a few key points. Here are a few crucial issues that you might want to address in your child custody dispute:
- Substance abuse: If your child’s other parent has a drug or alcohol problem, then you should gather evidence to demonstrate that. This might include police reports and criminal records, your child’s own accounts, on your testimony of your observations of the other parent. Exposure to parental substance abuse can be enormously damaging to your child, so make sure that you act swiftly to bring it to an end.
- Physical or emotional abuse: If you’re child has voiced being struck by the other parent or verbally berated, then you should take note of that and figure out how to present it as evidence. Although this may require your child to testify, you may also be able to use your own observations, child welfare reports, and reports from your child’s therapist.
- The other parent’s mental condition: It’s not right to limit a parent’s access to his or her child just because that parent has a mental health condition, but when that mental health condition goes untreated and it negatively impacts the other parent’s ability to safely parent your child, then it becomes much more relevant to the best interest determination.
- Your child’s lack of bond with the other parent: If your child has a strained relationship or a lack of bond with the other parent, then you may be able to use that evidence to show that extensive contact with that parent from the get-go is not in the child’s best interests.
- The other parent is uncooperative: Virginia law seeks to support custody arrangements where the parents can work together to support the child’s best interests. If one parent has a demonstrated propensity to alienate or otherwise draw a divide between you and the child, then the court will likely limit that parent’s contact with the child.
Aggressively fight for the child custody outcome that is right for your child
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to your child custody case. Instead, you need a custom-tailored legal strategy that best positions you and your child for a favorable outcome. This means that you may have multiple angles to take in your case, and they all need to be fully developed. This requires knowledge of the law and an understanding of how to craft persuasive legal arguments. If you think that you could benefit from assistance in building your custody case, then we encourage you to discuss your circumstances with an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.