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The following information is not intended to be legal advice and you should always consult with an attorney before relying on anything stated or inferred in this article.
Custody disputes are some of the most emotionally charged cases in any court house. However, it is always important to make sure that this emotion does not sidetrack your custody case. Generally, one, or both, parents feel hurt by the other. They want the Judge to know that the other parent abandoned them, cheated on them, or ignored them. They want redress for the past bad actions of the other parent.
This is where I say stop.
Remember what you are trying to accomplish in your custody case. The goal of a custody case is the custody of your child. In some courts you only have one hour to present your case to the Judge. If you spend the whole time disparaging the other parent the Judge will have no idea if you have a safe home, if you can provide for your child, or how dependable and responsible a parent you are. Always stay focused on the custody of your child.
Luckily, Virginia provides a road map on what you need to focus on in any case. Virginia Code § 20-124.3 expressly provides the 10 factors that all Judge’s must consider when determining custody. Here is the link. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+20-124.3
Rather than cutting and pasting the statute, I will attempt to explain each factor in plain English.
1. The Judge will consider your child’s age and how he is doing physically and mentally.
For example, is your child under/overweight? Does he play sports? How is he doing in school? Does he have any special needs? It is very important that you are thoroughly familiar with your child. You want to demonstrate to the Judge that you are more knowledgeable about your child than the other parent.
There is nothing worse than having a parent of an asthmatic child who cannot explain what to do if their child has an asthma attack. Place your self in the position of the Judge, would you give custody of an asthmatic child to a parent that has not taken the time to educate themselves on the condition?
If you are my client, I want you to know the exact name of any illness, what medicines your child takes, how and when to take them, and what you would do if the normal treatment fails.
Factors 2 through 10 to come…
Check back shortly for updates!