November 17, 2017

If you’re involved in a child custody dispute in Central or Western Virginia the court’s idea of a “win” is an arrangement that’s in the best interests of your child. The  legal strategy of custody cases is to convince the judge that your idea or plans for the custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child. The facts of the case   are what the judge will consider in making a custody determination The job of an experienced family law attorney is to prepare your case in a manner so as to present the facts that favor the custody arrangement that you feel is best for your child.

Custody arrangements between the parties can be made after negotiations or mediation Custody is divided into legal custody (the ability to make important decisions impacting the child’s life such as medical, religious or educational issues) and physical custody (where the child primarily resides).

If the parents can’t come to an agreement a judge will decide the custody and visitation of a child based  Here are some things to think about to improve the chances of success if your custody dispute ends up in court…

Is this about you or your child?

If your custody case is really about revenge against your former spouse or partner and an effort to inflict pain by denying the parent time with the child and the ability to make decisions concerning your child’s life, this may be a battle where there are no winners. If anger is motivating you, not the fact you want what’s in your child’s best interests, you need to re-think what you want and why. If a judge decides you’re engaged in a protracted, painful custody process out of spite you’re doomed to fail. This isn’t about your best interests and desires. It’s about the child’s best interests.  The job of an experienced family law lawyer is to persuade a judge based on the facts and evidence presented that the custody arrangement you want is best for your child.

The future may be based on the past.

If you haven’t spent much time with the child or shown much interest in him or her and for whatever reason you’ve been on the sidelines of the child’s life, it’s not realistic to think a judge will issue an order where you will be the primary caregiver and the center of the child’s life. In this situation a win might be shared legal custody and the ability to spend time with the child on a regular and predictable basis. This would allow you to become a bigger part of your child’s life and if your relationship with the child flourishes, you would be in a better position to ask the judge for more time in the future.

Don’t threaten the other parent.

Don’t make physical or emotional threats against the other parent to try to force the parent to agree to the custody arrangement you want. Don’t threaten to stop paying child support or to turn the child against the other parent. A judge will look kindly on a parent who is open to cooperating with the other one. A judge could be very harsh to a parent making threats. The judge could decide it’s not in the child’s best interests to spend a lot of time with a parent who makes threats.

Don’t alienate the child against the other parent.

Do not, through words or actions, degrade the other parent in the eyes of your child, threaten to withhold affection or support to the child, threaten violence against the child or to isolate him or her unless the child turns against the other parent. If you think this will get your child on “your side” to help you get the custody arrangement you want, think again. In all likelihood it will backfire. Chances are the judge will learn about this and may decide it’s in your child’s best interests to stay away from you.

If you have any questions about child custody law or need representation in a Central or Western Virginia child custody matter, call Cravens & Noll at (804) 330-9220 for a free consultation at one of our five offices. We can discuss your situation, how the law may apply, how you can improve your chances of success and how we can protect your legal rights and interests.

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