Child Custody FAQ at James H. Wilson

What Factors Do Courts Consider When Determining Child Custody Arrangements?

At James H. Wilson, we understand the complexity and sensitivity of child custody decisions. Courts prioritize the “best interests of the child,” considering a myriad of factors such as:

  • The child’s age, and their physical and emotional well-being
  • Each parent’s health and lifestyle, including exposure to second-hand smoke and history of abuse
  • The strength of the child-parent relationship and the parent’s ability to guide and nurture the child
  • Provision of basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare
  • Stability in the child’s current life including schooling, community, and place of worship
  • The likely effects on the child of altering the current living situation
  • The child’s schooling quality
  • Preferences of a mature child, typically around the age of 12 or older

Courts focus on establishing a stable environment, considering the primary caregiver for younger children and prioritizing continuity for older children’s schooling and community life.

Does Leaving Kids With the Other Parent Affect Future Custody Chances?

Leaving the children with the other parent can impact your custody case. It implies that the other parent is a suitable custodian. The court may resist changing this arrangement to prevent disrupting the children’s life. If you need to leave the home and want custody later, you should immediately seek temporary custody through family court to avoid negative implications.

Do Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers in Custody Cases?

No, the outdated presumption that mothers are favored for custody of young children has been eliminated. James H. Wilson advocates for custody based on the children’s best interests without gender bias. Fathers should not let stereotypes deter them from seeking custody; they can often present themselves as equal or even more suitable caregivers.

Can Custody Be Shared Between Parents?

Yes, courts can award “joint custody,” which includes:

  • Joint physical custody, with significant time spent with both parents
  • Joint legal custody, sharing decision-making responsibilities
  • A combination of both joint legal and physical custody

Joint custody is sometimes mandated or encouraged, barring any compromise to the child’s best interests or a parent’s health and safety.

Are There Special Considerations for Gay or Lesbian Parents in Custody Cases?

While a parent’s sexual orientation should not influence custody decisions, bias can still be present. If you face such concerns, it’s important to consult with a lawyer experienced in protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ parents.

Can Race Influence Custody or Visitation Decisions?

It is unconstitutional for race to be a factor in custody decisions, as established by the Supreme Court. Any parent facing discrimination based on race in a custody matter should seek immediate legal counsel.

Who Decides What “Reasonable Visitation” Is?

Generally, the custodial parent has more influence over setting a reasonable visitation schedule. However, disputes are better avoided by detailing a parenting plan that includes visitation and decision-making responsibilities. Our team can guide you in creating a parenting agreement that works in your child’s best interests.

Mediation is often the preferred approach to resolve custody and visitation disputes. It is less adversarial, faster, and less costly than litigation, and it promotes cooperation between parents, which benefits the children’s adjustment to the divorce or separation.

For assistance finding a specialized family law mediator, the Academy of Family Mediators ( and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution ( are valuable resources.

Should you need further guidance or representation in child custody matters, please contact James H. Wilson at 804.740.6464. We are committed to advocating for your family’s well-being and pursuing the best possible outcomes for your children.

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