Parents in West Virginia who are getting a divorce may be starting their child custody negotiations from the baseline assumption that both legal and physical custody will be shared if a bill passed by the House becomes law. According to HB 4648, it is in the best interests of the child for parenting after the divorce to be shared equally.

The bill has been sent to the Senate after a debate that considered whether it would help or harm children in divorced families. If a parent is abusive, neglectful or incompetent, the presumption could be changed. The delegate who sponsored the bill said that according to research, children benefit from having both parents involved in their lives. However, another delegate, who is also an attorney who deals with family law cases, argued that the presumption was not a good place to start in a divorce case because parents often have so much animosity toward one another.

The bill, which passed with a vote of 59-38, was based on an earlier Kentucky bill. That one had a lot of legislative support, and the state’s vice-chair for the National Parents Organization said it was the country’s best law on shared parenting.

Reaching an agreement on child custody scheduling, even if parents agree to share their time equally, can be difficult. Parents may struggle with the idea that they simply will not have as much time with their children as they did before the divorce. However, by putting the child’s best interests first, they may be able to reach an amicable solution. A family law attorney may help explain the potential schedule arrangements. One parent may also be required to pay child support to the other. This money is strictly for the child’s needs. It differs from spousal support, which may be temporary or permanent and is intended to help the ex-spouse financially.