As family law attorneys in child custody determinations, we are asked constantly by clients “when can my child choose which parent to live with?” The answer in Virginia may surprise you. In Virginia, the child never gets to choose which parent to live with regardless of how old they are. That decision is always up to the trial judge.
Virginia Code § 20-124.3 lays out the factors that the court is to consider in making a determination of which custody or visitation schedule is in a child’s best interest. That section lays out ten factors for the court to consider. Only one of the ten factors to be considered is “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference.” The remaining nine factors are also considered. The law in Virginia relating to child custody seems to directly reflect the notion that minor children do not always know what is in their best interests, and they certainly do not get to decide what is best for them absent other factors for consideration.
This fact underscores the importance of obtaining an aggressive knowledgeable family law attorney on your side that can use the facts of your case to your advantage. The difference between obtaining custody of your child regardless of their age can come down to your decision of which attorney to hire. The family law attorneys at Bush & Taylor know the law and can use it to your advantage.
See what the Virginia Code states about child custody: