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Father’s Day is approaching and so we turn to the dads.  I was surprised to see a story from the Associate Press out of Ohio a few weeks ago about how dads aren’t getting fair consideration in custody matters. Virginia, thankfully, seems different.  Our courts seem to really focus on the best interests of the child (as the statute requires) and not on any predisposition of whether a mother or father should have custody (in same sex relationships, we may have two mothers or two fathers).  What does that mean?  It means that custody is determined after considering the following that is focused on the child: age and physical/mental health of each child and parent; developmental needs of the child; the relationship existing between each parent and each child; each parent’s ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child; the needs of the child including other important relationships of the child such as siblings and extended family; the role that each parent has played and will play in the future in the upbringing and care of the child; the propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child; the relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child.  Preference of the is one factor among these many if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference;any history of family abuse; and any such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination. 

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