Under Virginia law, people who are not the parents of a child may apply for custody if they are a relative, stepparent, former stepparent or anyone who has filled a similar role in relation to the child. Both parents are also able to seek custody of the child, and the parents will be given preference in a custody dispute unless they are shown to be unfit.
In Virginia, there are several factors used to determine if a custody or visitation decision is in the best interests of a child. The first factor that is taken into account is the age of the child and the changing needs of the child as it gets older. The current physical and mental needs of the child are also taken into consideration when determining if an action is in his or her best interests.
When parents have a custody dispute and file a petition, courts determine custody and visitation rights in accordance with the best interests of the child. In making the decision, courts look to a number of factors.
Noncustodial parents in Virginia normally are given visitation rights to their children, with a few exceptions such as a history of domestic violence or abuse. For noncustodial parents who do have those rights, it may be a good idea to take them seriously. Failing to show up for a scheduled visitation without notifying the child or the other parent could be taken as rejection by the child.
Paul George's current legal dispute points out some issues which may be of concern to unmarried Virginia couples trying to resolve a child custody matter. George allegedly fathered a child with Daniela Rajic, a woman he met in Florida. A paternity test performed before the birth confirmed George as the father. However, he disputes the test's method and result. He plans to accept responsibility if another test confirms him as the father.