West Virginia Custody and Visitation Schedules
Your child custody and visitation schedule is important to you and to your child. Here's how to set up a West Virginia visitation schedule.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
When creating a child visitation schedule in the State of West Virginia, it is important to have an understanding of the law so you may develop a schedule that complies with the law and meets the needs of your child.
These laws can be found in the West Virginia Code, Chapter 48, Domestic Relations.
The law contains definitions for many of the terms used by the court, explains the different types of custody, explains how the court makes decisions in family law cases, and explains what to include in a child visitation schedule.
If you use the law as a guide when creating your West Virginia child visitation schedule, you increase the chance of having a successfully accepted schedule and a more favorable outcome in your case.
Before you begin creating your child visitation schedule, you should know the objectives of the State of West Virginia in child custody cases.
The primary objective of the courts and the State of West Virginia is to serve the child's best interests, which may be done by facilitating (§48-9-102):
- The child's stability
- The development of a parenting plan that is mutually agreed upon by the parents, enabling the parents to make arrangements for the custody of the child and the child's upbringing
- The continuation of the bonds of the existing child/parent relationships
- The child is allowed meaningful contact with each parent
- The child is taken care of by people who love the child, place a high priority on meeting the child's needs, and possess the ability to do so
- The child is kept safe and protected from physical and emotional harm
- Prolonged uncertainty regarding the custody of the child is avoided by making the decisions regarding the care and custody of the child in a timely manner
The court requires parents involved in child custody cases to submit a parenting plan and child visitation schedule to the court.
The court prefers that parents work together and reach an agreement on the parenting plan and custodial arrangement for the child.
If you find yourself unable to agree on any of the stipulations or arrangement in your parenting plan, you will be required to attend mediation in an effort to resolve your differences (§48-9-202).
If you have tried everything and are still unable to reach an agreement, the court will create a schedule for you.
The court allows the parents two options for different kinds of child visitation schedules (§48-9-205):
- You may create an actual schedule that specifies the days and times your child will spend with each parent in the course of a year.
- You may opt to create a formula or method for determining parenting time in a manner that is detailed enough to be enforced by the court.
It is more common for parents to elect to create an actual child visitation schedule as the days and times are clearly defined, easy to keep track of, and are not subject to interpretation. This lessens the likeliness of parental conflict, as it pertains to the schedule.
Your West Virginia child visitation schedule should be comprised of three components:
- A regular residential schedule that details the days and times your child will spend with each parent
- A schedule for holidays that permits your child to spend an equitable amount of time with each parent on special occasions
- A vacation schedule or and provisions for vacations that gives your child extended amounts of time with each of you for vacations
Except in cases where it is not in the best interests of the child to do so, such as cases of abuse or domestic violence, your child should be allowed frequent, ongoing contact with each parent.
Unless you and the other parent agree otherwise, and as long as it is in the best interests of your child, the court will usually allocate custody in a manner that reflects the same or similar parenting arrangements your child had prior to divorce, dissolution, or parental separation (§48-9-206).
For example, if one parent has acted as your child's primary caregiver, the custodial arrangements will most likely reflect that.
If both of you played an active role in caring for and raising your child prior to filing custodial litigation, the court prefers the child still spend ample time with both of you.
When creating child visitation schedule, you should be aware of the objectives the court wishes the child visitation schedule to meet (§48-9-206).
Your West Virginia child visitation schedule should:
- Allow the child to have a relationship with each parent who has been an active participant in raising the child.
- Accommodate the reasonable preference of a child fourteen years old or older. Consideration will be given to the requests of children under the age of fourteen if they are mature enough to voice an educated opinion.
- Keep siblings together, when in the best interest of the child.
- Protect the child from harm and situations where a parent does not have a bond with the child, doesn't love the child, or doesn't take proper care of the child, etc.
- Allocate visitation time in an appropriate manner, by creating a child visitation schedule that is feasible for both parents to follow, which will help the child have stability.
- Ensure that parental relocation would not be detrimental to the child.
- Consider the child's developmental stage.
The objectives of the court were designed to benefit the child. By working with the other parent and considering the best interests of the child and the child custody laws when making your West Virginia child visitation schedule, you should be able to create a schedule that the court will approve of.
The top ten cities in West Virginia (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, Fairmont, Weirton, Martinsburg, Beckley, Clarksburg.