West Virginia uses several factors to determine child custody laws. Primarily, a West Virginia court determines child custody based on the best interests of the child. A West Virginia court prefers a joint custody arrangement which allows the child access to both parents. Parents who wish to file for child custody in West Virginia should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.
Related: Help our readers by sharing your experience with child custody in West Virginia.
Best Interests of Child
A court in West Virginia will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. The court will review the following factors to determine a child's best interests:
- The child's wishes
- The parents' wishes
- The parents' prior agreement
- Each parent's involvement in past child-rearing responsibilities
In West Virginia, the court's objectives in determining child custody based on a child's best interests are:
- The stability of the child
- Regular contact between the child and each parent
- The emotional and physical well being of the child
Parenting Agreements and Child Custody in West Virginia
In West Virginia, if parents agree on child custody, the court wlll ask the parents to complete a written parenting agreement. The court will agree to the provisions in the parenting plan unless:
- The agreement is not reached voluntarily
- The parenting plan is harmful to the child
If a parenting agreement is not accepted, a court in West Virginia will give the parents the opportunity to negotiate a new agreement.
Relocation and Child Custody in West Virginia
In West Virginia, if a parent is interested in relocating, he/she must supply their co-parent with at least 60 days advance notice, or as much notice as possible. The notice shall include:
- The date of relocation
- The address of the intended relocation
- Reasons for the relocation
- Provisions for how custody will be modified due to the move
A West Virginia court will determine whether the parent is able to relocate with a child, and whether custody should be modified because of the change in child custody.
Modification of Child Custody in West Virginia
A West Virginia court will consider a modification of child custody if it determines that the custody plan is not working and is somehow harmful to a child. The following circumstances do not constitute a change of circumstances:
- Loss of employment or income
- Either parent's remarriage or cohabitation
- Choices regarding reasonable care-taking arrangements for the child, including the choice of day care and schools
For further information about child custody in West Virginia, speak with a qualified attorney in West Virginia or refer to the West Virginia Code.