The People’s Lawyer

Proposed custody bill could impact domestic violence victims

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2021 | Family Law

Not all families can remain as a unit. Whether it is through divorce, separation or break-up, parents in West Virginia and elsewhere may find it more suitable to parent separately. While the children’s best interests are also in the forefront, the needs and safety of the parents are also considered. In cases of domestic violence, a parent may be able to gain full access to the children and added securities to ensure that no events of violence or abuse will occur. However, a proposed bill in the state of West Virginia could present challenges for victims of abuse.

New bill for custody presumption

Recently, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that, if it were to become a law, would provide family courts with the presumption at the beginning of the case that a 50-50 custody arrangements are the best. This would mean that it is up to the parents to evidence that other factors, such as domestic violence, should be considered in the matter.

Those that support this bill sate that its purpose it to encourage a positive relationship with both parents, which in turn will benefit the child. In contrast, advocates for children and victims of domestic violence are concerned about the outcome this one-size-fits all approach will have on these individuals.

Domestic violence victims

When family courts take into account domestic violence or child abuse, they are putting the needs of the child first. The concern with this bill is that it places the parent’s desires over the needs of the child. Opponents further argue that the current law already allows the judge to establish 50-50 custody arrangements if they believe it is best; thus, they argue that these changes should not be made, as they could be used as a tool by abusive parents to manipulate the system.

Situations of domestic violence are serious. It can be a challenging situation to address and navigate, as many are fearful of the unexpected. Therefore, it is important to gain a full understanding of the matter and what rights and options one has. Filing for a protective order not only provides the necessary protection but it could help direct family law matters, such as custody.