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What Are the Changes in the West Virginia Child Custody Laws?

Aug 25, 2023 | Child Custody & Support

Divorce can be an emotionally taxing process, especially when children are involved. For parents, nothing is more significant than ensuring the well-being and future of their children. Custody matters often take the forefront in these cases, and in West Virginia, recent legal changes have transformed the landscape of child custody arrangements. Here are key aspects of these changes and offer insights on how to navigate the new legal framework.

1. Prioritizing Children in Divorce:

When couples seek consultation regarding custody matters, it’s evident that their primary concern is the well-being of their children. Acknowledging this, legal professionals approach these discussions with sensitivity, understanding the emotional turmoil involved. Custody arrangements directly impact a child’s upbringing, making it an essential topic to address.

2. The Evolution of Custodial Allocation Law:

In June 2022, West Virginia underwent a substantial legal transformation concerning custodial allocation. Previously, the court assessed the percentage of caretaking functions performed by each parent on a daily basis to determine custody arrangements. Factors such as morning routines, school activities, meals, and bedtime routines played a pivotal role in this assessment.

3. The Best Interest of Children Act:

With the passing of the Best Interest of Children Act, West Virginia’s custody allocation approach experienced a paradigm shift. The new legislation introduced a strong presumption in favor of shared custodial time between parents, regardless of caretaking functions. This marked a departure from the earlier emphasis on day-to-day caregiving tasks as the main determinant of custody allocation. 

4. Shifting Perspectives on Parental Roles:

Under the new law, the roles of parents are redefined to encompass both caregiving and breadwinning responsibilities. This means that even a parent who spends extended hours outside the home working to support the family is considered to be actively participating in parenting.

5. Rebutting the Presumption:

While the new law establishes a robust presumption of equal custodial time, certain exceptional circumstances can rebut this presumption. Factors such as substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, and significant misconduct can be considered. However, these factors must be substantial and compelling to overturn the presumption of shared custodial time.

6. Seeking Legal Counsel:

Given the complexity of these legal changes, it’s crucial for parents to seek advice from qualified divorce attorneys who are well-versed in the updated legislation. Practitioners who understand the intricacies of the new law can provide accurate guidance, ensuring that clients are informed about their rights and responsibilities.

7. Putting Children First:

Amid legal changes and procedural adaptations, it’s important to remember that children remain the focal point of custody matters. Custodial schedules have a significant impact on their lives, influencing their growth, stability, and overall well-being. This realization underscores the gravity of making informed decisions during the divorce or custody process.

Navigating custody matters within the context of divorce has become even more nuanced and intricate with the recent legal changes in West Virginia. Parents seeking the best possible outcomes for their children must stay informed about the new custodial allocation laws. By partnering with qualified child custody attorneys who are well-versed in these changes, parents can work toward solutions that prioritize the well-being of their children while adapting to the evolving legal landscape. At Arnold & Bailey, we can help you navigate child custody arrangements. Consider calling 304-725-2002 or filling out the contact form today to speak to an attorney.