Divorce & Children
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Child Custody

West Virginia courts welcome joint custody and encourage the spouses to share parental rights and responsibilities by making their own agreed parenting plan. It is presumed that no one knows what is best for a child's well-being better than the parents themselves.

However, if the parents fail to agree or refuse to cooperate, the judge may suggest each party present their individual plan so that the judge can compare both versions and enforce the most appropriate plan according to the "best interests of the child" standard.

Typically, physical custody is more often awarded only to one parent. Even when joint custody or shared parenting is awarded, the spouse who provides a home for the child is the residential parent, while the other is a nonresidential parent. If the nonresidential parent spends more than 35% of the year with the child, this type of joint custody is called "Extended shared parenting" instead of "Basic shared parenting."

Legal custody (which determines which parent gets to make important decisions regarding the upbringing of the child) can still be shared between the parents regardless of the physical custody order.

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