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What should I know about custody and parenting plans?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Child Custody, Family Law

Children tend to get caught in the middle of disputes over custody and parenting time. Parents are advised to try and limit the children’s exposure to the negativity between them, but it is not always easy. Having an idea as to what type of parenting time schedule both sides are willing to accept is key from the beginning.

The court will consider many factors when deciding on a parenting plan

When a Virginia court makes its determination for the parenting plan, it will weigh many issues. For example, younger children are likely to need more of a bonding relationship with their parents than teens would. With that, the age, mental and physical development will be fundamental when the decisions are made.

The parents will also be looked at to gauge their condition and age. Some parents might have personal problems that will limit the time the court wants them to spend with the child. They might not get any parenting time at all if it is especially dangerous to the child.

Some children have a closer attachment to one parent over the other. Perhaps one was a stay-at-home parent while the other worked long hours and traveled a significant amount. This could mean that the parent with more time with the child will have custody and the parenting time will be based on when the other parent has the freedom in their schedule to see the child.

Some children are mature enough to state a preference. The court can give this as much weight as it wants. In general, older children are given a greater voice, but younger children expressing themselves clearly and on their own can be considered. Of course, past allegations of abuse can limit the time a parent spends with the child.

As for the schedule itself, it too will depend on the circumstances. If the parents’ residences are relatively nearby, then the child could be with one parent during the week and the other on weekends. There can be extended time with the noncustodial parent over the summer and during school breaks. A child’s specific needs could be crucial when formulating a schedule. As always, the parents’ ability to cooperate and put their own feelings about the other parent aside will help with the child’s development.