Child custody agreements established during West Virginia (WV) divorce proceedings can be challenged if they are determined to be against the best interests of the involved child or children. Southern WV child custody modification lawyer Jason Harwood has the experience to guide parents by evaluating any changes in circumstances that may qualify for a modification of the existing custodial orders.
A Southern WV Child Custody Modification Lawyer Explains the Guidelines
Child custody guidelines in WV determine both physical custody—where the child lives—and legal custody—the ability to make decisions regarding the child. A southern WV child custody lawyer can help you structure and get court approval for a custody order that meets the established guidelines. The Best Interests of Child Protection Act of 2022, which took effect June 10, 2022, outlines the following provisions to determine the best custody arrangement:
- Stability for the child;
- Collaborative agreement between the parents regarding custody and decisions about raising the child;
- Maintaining current and meaningful parent-child relationships and attachments;
- Ensuring caretaking by loving adults who know how to provide for and prioritize the needs of the child;
- Safety from physical or emotional harm;
- Facilitating timely and consistent decision-making by the parents; and
- Allowing meaningful contact between the child and their siblings, including half-siblings.
This legislation also amends child custody guidelines in WV to require that courts begin with the presumption of equal custody in all cases with the goal of increased fairness to both parties. However, parents should seek the advice of an experienced southern WV child support modification attorney to protect their rights.
Qualifying Changes in Circumstance, Explained by a WV Child Custody Attorney
An existing child custody order can be modified by the court for the following reasons:
- Facts not presented or that have arisen since the prior custody order;
- Substantial changes in circumstance for the child or either parent; or
- An Existing order is not working as planned and is causing harm to the child.
However, the following factors are not considered justification for modification of a custody order, unless harm to the child can be proven:
- Circumstances involving loss of income, by loss of employment or otherwise;
- Parent’s remarriage or cohabitation; or
- Choice of reasonable childcare, including placing a child in daycare.
WV Child Custody Modification Laws
Custody orders can be modified in WV without significant changes in circumstance if the following criteria are met:
- Both parties agree, and the arrangement is not harmful to the child;
- The petitioner has been providing care for the child for at least six months in substantial deviation from the existing parenting plan;
- Requested modifications to the custody order are minor;
- The new agreement represents the preference of the child, who is 14 or considered sufficiently mature by the court; or
- Evidence of repeated fraudulent reports of domestic violence or child abuse is presented.
An experienced southern WV child custody lawyer can evaluate whether an existing order qualifies for modification and guide parents through WV child custody disputes.
Child Custody Disputes in WV
When a child custody order is not meeting the needs of the child or children involved, it’s time to seek the advice of an attorney. An experienced southern WV child custody lawyer can evaluate whether changes in circumstances make the current order inappropriate, assist with gathering needed documentation, and present the case in the correct venue. The court of jurisdiction for the previous divorce proceedings will determine the proper venue for modifications of child custody arrangements unless both parties have relocated. In these cases, your attorney will follow the child custody guidelines in WV to determine which court should hear the case.
Contact a Southern WV Child Custody Modification Lawyer
Modifying an existing child custody order is a complex, emotional process with the most important of outcomes. Southern WV child custody modification lawyer Jason Harwood can provide the solid advice and compassionate guidance you need to win your custody case. Contact Harwood Legal by calling 304-752-5015 or completing this online contact form to get answers to any questions about child custody disputes and child custody guidelines in WV.