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FamilyAnswer, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  9 + years of handling Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody and Child Support cases
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in the state of VA how much say does a 15yoa have in deciding

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in the state of VA how much say does a 15yoa have in deciding who they live with
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.

Good evening. I certainly understand the situation and concern. At 15 years old, the child can certainly express their wishes and desire regarding which parent they want to live with and the Judge can even go so far as speaking with the child, to get an idea and an understanding of the reason why. However, the Judge is ALWAYS going to have the final say and will make the decision based upon what he/she feels is in the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child standard is something which is always used and I have provided the statue below for your review, to see what the Judge is going to look for and what should be shown, if you seek custody.

§ 20-124.3. Best interests of the child; visitation.

In determining best interests of a child for purposes of determining custody or visitation arrangements including any pendente lite orders pursuant to § 20-103, the court shall consider the following:

1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child's changing developmental needs;

2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;

3. The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child's life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child;

4. The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members;

5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child;

6. The propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;

7. The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child;

8. 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;

9. Any history of family abuse as that term is defined in § 16.1-228 or sexual abuse. If the court finds such a history, the court may disregard the factors in subdivision 6; and

10. Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

The judge shall communicate to the parties the basis of the decision either orally or in writing. Except in cases of consent orders for custody and visitation, this communication shall set forth the judge's findings regarding the relevant factors set forth in this section.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

if the parent who has custody now of this 15yoa is owed $2000.00 in back child support from the other parent who now wants custody, what are the chances the parent can collect that back child support & how would this play out in the new custody trial

The parent should be able to collect the entire $2000. It should not effect the custody trial and if custody is modified and shared between the parents, to future amount of support may be modified but the arrears will have to be paid.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't think a shared custody decision would be the issue since one parent (has custody now) lives in PA & the parent seeking new custody is in VA, don't know how that would be arranged given child having to be in school, but souldn't custody lawyer of the parent seeking new custody advise their client not to seek custody because this back child support will come into the picture? Also would the judge take the non payment of back child support into consideration of his decision?

Correct. If the parents live in different States, then there would not be shared custody. The issue of visitation would need to be decided though, if it is not in place. Child support is separate and apart from custody and visitation. The non-payment of child support may be considered by the Judge but it is not going to be the deciding factor. The issue of back child support should not prevent or require the attorney to advise their client to not seek custody, if they want it. However, if the sole purpose is to avoid paying support, then they would have a duty to speak with them and consider not taking the case. It would be at their discretion.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Who goes after the back child support the lawyer for parent who is owed the money or is that separate issue and you have to go another route? What state has that jurisdiction VA (original custody order) or PA where parent owed the money lives?

The parent who is owed the money or their attorney can go after the parent who owes the support. If the parent does not pay, their wages could be garnished or the State/Court could take other action to compel them to pay. The State where the parents and child reside could handle the matter.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Your last part about where parent & child live, you were only speaking about the child support, right? Cause the custody is being handled in VA where parent seeking custody lives & where original custody was decided

Yes, that is correct.
FamilyAnswer and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thank you for the answers