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What are the factors to deciding visitation rights?

When making decisions about visitation, there are a number of factors that a judge might consider. Generally, the court seeks to provide consistent and predictable interaction with each parent. However, there are some factors, such as abusive behavior or neglect, which might cause a judge limit the interaction a child has with a parent. Any plans made are typically focused on the child, seeking to provide a situation that offers a safe and healthy environment.

In some cases, parents may be able to create a visitation agreement without court intervention. However, because custody and visitation can be emotional topics, disputes may arise, and some parents may not be able to compromise. When this occurs, a judge may take the following factors into account when trying to create an order that provides for the child's best interest.

One major factor is the child's age and his or her developmental needs. Information that might affect this aspect may come from professionals that have worked with the child previously. For example, a therapist or school counselor may be able to offer a judge insight to the child's psychological needs. Another factor is the ability of a parent to provide a non-abusive environment. This involves the ability of the parent to provide proper discipline while shielding the child from unnecessary adult conflicts.

The factors outlined above are only a few of the issues a judge might consider when attempting to make a ruling on visitation and custody. A parent who is involved in such proceedings might benefit from retaining the services of a family law attorney. That attorney may be able to help assert the client's interests in court while still pursing the best interests of the child in question.

Source: Virginia's Judicial System, "Visitation: Factors to Consider", November 21, 2014

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