West Virginia couples who are ending their relationship but have children will need to think about child custody arrangements. This can lead to challenges and acrimony. The priority should be the children, but if both parents want custody or disagree over parenting time, it can become complicated.

Understanding the laws of the state is essential with any aspect of family law. Frequently, child custody is emotionally charged, but while some cases are contentious, others are relatively amicable. The parents might work together to construct a workable agreement. If that happens, the court will generally approve it. However, if this does not happen, the court will decide on how custody will be addressed.

When the court is assessing a case, the fundamental goal is to serve the best interests of the child. Any factor can be considered by the court to ensure the child is properly cared for. That includes health, safety, education, environment, the community and which parent is better-suited to consistently adhere to the child’s needs. Often, both parents believe the child would be in a better situation with them, so the court must gauge the various factors and decide.

Physical custody in which one parent is the primary custodian could be the wise step for a child’s well-being. Perhaps joint custody with both parents sharing the decision-making responsibility would be a preferable alternative. The child may be of sufficient age and maturity to voice an opinion. If so, the court will consider the child’s wishes. For a child custody case, having legal advice might be critical to achieving a satisfactory outcome. A law firm experienced in custody matters may be able to provide guidance and help in a case.