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Currently VA custody laws do not consider who the parent brings around a child (VAC 20-124.3).  The law lists 10 things for a judge to consider when determining the 'best interest' of a child:

  1. The condition of the child.
  2. The condition of the parent.
  3. Parent's ability to meet child's needs.
  4. The needs of the child.
  5. Future role of parent in child's life.
  6. The parent's propensity to support a relationship with the other parent.
  7. The willingness of the parent to maintain a close relationship with the child AND to cooperate with the other parent.
  8. Preference of the child.
  9. History of family abuse.
  10. Other factors.

This is not enough.

Family courts should also consider the people that a parent brings around the children.  

In Virginia, 38% of children killed by caregivers in 2014 were by the live-in partner of the biological parent (usually mother). Yet Virginia Family Law has ZERO consideration for who a parent brings around their children.

These numbers are about the same nationally.  

Too many children are abused and MURDERED by a mother's boyfriend in particular.  Family courts are very often giving custody to mothers and ignoring the rights of the child to have their father in their life.

Family courts need completely restructured, but this is a bandaid that could save children.

This is not an effort to give government more power to infringe on our privacy.  This is only asking that while considering the 'best interest' of the child during custody matters, that the court also considers the people that each parent brings around the child.

Factors to consider are to include:

- the length of time the parent/guardian has known the person in question

- the degree of involvement that person has with the children, and how the parent in question encourages relations with this person

- the history of the person, such as criminal record, drug abuse, domestic violence, formal accusations, parenting history, etc.

- the circumstances in which the parent met this person

- a history by the parent in question to bring similar people or other questionable people around the children

- the parent in question's degree to which they hinder a relationship with the other parent, particularly in relation to encouraging a relationship with this new person

Currently courts completely ignore this factor.  In fact their ignorance of this factor led my daughter to her death by the very person I asked the courts to protect my daughter from.  The courts responded to my request by ignoring and disrespecting me and changing my custody from 50% to ZERO.

This is unacceptable.  My daughter was, and many children like her are, let down by the family courts and by the step parent adoption process and by probation officers and child protective services, and other government agencies, simply because of ignorance.

We need to give the government guidance in these matters.




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