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The court doesn’t want to see that you’ve developed a friendly peer-type relationship with your child, or that you’ve placed your child in a role that requires her to give comfort and support to you.
When the court analyzes this factor, the court is looking to see that your relationship is healthy, positive, and appropriate.
One parent won’t receive preferential treatment, for example, because he is younger or more physically fit. If you’re seeing a therapist, you should be aware that any records kept by your therapist or any testimony your therapist offers if he or she is subpoenaed to court is admissible, because the court is required to take into account the mental condition of both parents.
Of course, this isn’t a reason NOT to see a therapist if you need one.
This factor often allows moms to shine, because it gives some credit to the person who, up until this point, has been the primary caregiver of the children.
It is important to remember, though, that this factor is only one factor out of ten, and it is not the be-all, end-all where child custody is concerned.
If a guardian ad litem or a custody evaluator has been appointed in your case, you won’t want to come across as bitter or nasty.
Not only that, but the judge won’t want to hear it, either, so it’s best to get in the practice of giving brief, accurate accounts of what has happened, without talking at length about your child’s father’s weaknesses. It’s safe to say that this is the most important factor of the ten, and it’s one that is frequently a mom’s downfall.
To dad, though, when you say no, you’re unreasonably denying visitation—and, to the court, this looks like you’ve denied him access to his child, so you’re not fostering the development of this relationship.You should brush up on your parenting reference books so that you’re prepared to articulate what you believe to be your child’s current and future foreseeable developmental needs, and how you are prepared to meet them.You will probably also want to present some evidence regarding what kind of custody and visitation arrangement will help meet those needs, keeping in mind that what works today may need to be expanded or narrowed as the child ages.Expert witnesses can also testify about the mental health issues affecting the parents, but this is not testimony you’ll want to offer yourself.If you’re concerned about the mental health of your child’s father, you should suggest an evaluation.
I will list each of the ten factors for you here, and also include a brief description of the factor and what it means for Virginia moms facing custody cases.