Ending a relationship with the other parent of your children will likely be a stressful process. Both of you may experience intense emotions, and you may fight over things that had never been issues previously.
It is quite normal for those going through a rough breakup or a divorce to worry about the custody outcome for their family. Most people have heard horror stories from co-workers or on social media about a parent who loses touch with their children because of an unfair custody order.
You shouldn’t feel trapped in an unhealthy marriage just because you love your children and worry about losing access to them. Do you have to worry about your ex receiving preferential treatment in your Virginia custody case?
Neither parent has more rights than the other
Contrary to what some people think happens in child custody proceedings, there is no institutional bias against either of the parents. The judge making decisions about a parenting plan doesn’t give one parent preference over the other.
The custody laws in Virginia do not even discuss the genders or roles of the individual parents. Instead, the law uses neutral language to drive home how the focus of all decisions should be the best interests of the children.
A judge creating a custody order looks at the relationship that the parents have had with the children so far, their ability to support the children and even their willingness to cooperate with the other parent when they decide how to split up parenting time. If your ex is hostile toward you and tries to cut you out of the children’s lives, their actions might actually hurt their case for custody.
You can’t get what you don’t ask for in court
Some parents approach custody matters with a defeatist attitude. They think that they will never receive fair consideration in the courts, so they don’t even bother asking for shared custody. Those cases become examples of self-fulfilling prophecies. You can’t get custody if you don’t ask for it. You must assert your rights and show up for your children to remain a part of their lives.
Keeping the focus on what is best for the children, which likely includes frequent time with you, can help you take the right steps to pursue shared custody.