In several recent decisions in the domestic relations area, the Virginia Supreme Court has significantly altered the "tender years" doctrine to afford fathers more rights in custody of their young children. This aspect of child custody litigation is actually a corollary of the overall maternal preference rule in resolving custody disputes between natural parents. Specifically, the doctrine purports that the mother is the natural custodian of her children of "tender years," and that she should not be denied custody if she is a fit and proper person. This comment will focus primarily upon the evolution of this concept in Virginia. These recent judicial modifications will be compared with national trends and criticisms in this area.
Deborah M. Russell,
The "Tender Years" Doctrine in Virginia,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol12/iss3/7