A divorce order does not end a parent’s responsibilities towards the children. Both parents should try their best to play a vital part in the lives of their children since they need ongoing affection, and concern of their parents.
In deciding custody in the state of Virginia, the court shall give consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall assure minor children of frequent contact with both caretakers, when appropriate, and encourage guardians to share in the responsibilities of raising their children.
In determining best interests of a child for purposes of deciding custody or visitation arrangements, the judge shall consider the following factors:
- The age, physical and mental state of the child;
- The age, physical and mental state of each guardian;
- The relationship that exists between each guardian and each child, and considering the positive involvement with the child’s life;
- The necessities of the child, considering other important relationships of the child, including siblings and friends;
- The role that each guardian has played and will play in the future, in the raising and care of the child;
- The reasonable choice of the child;
- Any history of abuse or sexual abuse in the family.
Spouses engaged in divorce proceedings in the state of Virginia may come to a reciprocal agreement about relocating the minors. If the caretakers agree to the relocation prior to the final divorce order, the terms will be written in the marital settlement agreement, which becomes part of the final order. One guardian might object to the other relocating the children. If the relocation order occurs while the divorce is pending, the spouses must resolve the dispute as part of the divorce agreement. If the request to relocate is contested by the other guardian, the judge will hold a hearing to decide if the relocation is in the child’s best interests.
Parental attitude has a great influence on the emotional adjustment of their children. This is equally true after a divorce in Virginia. The following guidelines have been found to be helpful to children in managing time with parents in different homes:
- Time sharing should be enjoyable not only for the minors but for both parents as well;
- The caretaker must keep his/her schedule. Missing time with the minors without letting the other parent know may be assumed by the child as rejection. Therefore the parent must always make sure he/she notifies the other parent if he/she is not coming.
- Parents may need to adjust the schedule after a while, according to the children’s ages and interests.
- If a parent is moving out of the former marital home, he/she may wonder whether his/her time with the children saddens the children. This is wrong. A parent’s time with the children is one of the few times that the guardian can have personal contact with the children, and for that reason, it should be a joyful time for both the guardian and the children.
- Both guardian should try to agree on matters that have to do with the children, especially discipline.