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Both legal and physical custody rights should be determined prior to two divorced parents co-parenting. Legal custody describes a parent’s legal authority to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, educational opportunities, medical decisions and religious beliefs. Under West Virginia law (W. Va. Code §48-10-203), both parents are presumed to share legal custody of their child, and one parent may be granted either sole legal custody or shared legal custody. Physical custody describes where the child primarily lives, with one parent deemed the primary custodial parent who primarily has physical custody and the other a non-custodial parent with visitation rights. In West Virginia, the court is tasked with determining who the custodial parent is and creating a parenting plan (W. Va. Code §48-10-304).
In West Virginia, the guidelines associated with child support are vestigial in nature and are used in the majority of cases (W. Va. Code §48-11-102). These guidelines take into account the total income of both parents as well as other such factors as the cost of medical insurance, childcare or other such expenses. The court will almost certainly apply these guidelines to the situation, but any deviations from the application of these guidelines must be approved by the court and must be noted in the final order (W. Va. Code § 48-11-303).
Both parents in West Virginia have a legal obligation to financially support their child. Co-parenting agreements can also provide for additional expenses such as medical, dental, and educational expenses. These agreements are encouraged as they ensure that each parent is aware of the exact financial obligations required of them and helps to prevent conflict between the two parties. When making a co-parenting agreement, parents should consider not only the basic needs of the child but also additional co-parenting expenses that may arise once the custody arrangement is finalized.
A parenting plan should be established as a part of any definitive custody arrangement and should account for both legal and physical custody provisions as well as any potential changes in circumstances. In West Virginia, parents are encouraged to work together to create a parenting plan which works for both of them (W. Va. Code §48-10-306). It is also important for both parents to try and maintain a healthy relationship with one another for the sake of the child, as this can help to ensure that both parents remain involved in the child’s life.
The number of visitation rights granted in West Virginia is variable and will depend upon the specifics of the situation, with the court having the final determination. Before engaging in a custody dispute, parents should try to come to an agreement that is both workable and fair to both parties ( W. Va. Code §48-10-410). Once the agreement is approved by the court, it must be followed, and any requests to modify the agreement must be approved by the court.
If the parents are unable to agree on any issue regarding the custody or support of the child, either party may request mediation to help settle the dispute. Mediation services are available throughout West Virginia, with court approved services for those who require them (W. Va. Code §48-10-102). Mediation helps to ensure that both parties are involved in the decisions that are made concerning their child and can help to resolve legal issues quickly and without unnecessary delays.
Split families in West Virginia can make use of various legal tools in order to ensure that their child receives the physical, emotional, and financial support that he/she needs. From creating a parenting plan to availing mediation services, these tools are important for creating an environment where both parents can remain involved in their child’s life. It is important for both parents to understand the provisions of West Virginia law in order to ensure that they remain compliant with their legal obligations to the child and create a positive co-parenting environment.
|Co-parenting in USA|
|New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico||New York|
|North Carolina||North Dakota||Ohio||Oklahoma|
|Oregon||Pennsylvania||Rhode Island||South Carolina|
|Co-parenting in Canada|
|Alberta||British Columbia||Manitoba||New Brunswick|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Northwest Territories||Nova Scotia||Nunavut|
|Ontario||Prince Edward Island||Quebec||Saskatchewan|
Warning: This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.