How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody In West Virginia

Regardless of your social or economic conditions, it can be devastating to witness or experience domestic violence in any form. It is not physical violence alone but covers broad unwanted or frightening experiences one person may have been through. This especially holds for children, who can suffer from lifelong trauma due to such a situation.

That is why states such as West Virginia take extraordinary measures in child custody cases that have any instances of domestic abuse attached to them.

To understand these actions better and see how they can help in your case, here’s how domestic violence affects child custody in West Virginia.

West Virginia Has Strict Laws Against Domestic Violence

When it comes to child custody, the Mountain State emphasizes shared parenting time. It designates the parent who spends a majority of time with their children as the primary custodial parent in normal circumstances.

With that being said, the court typically allocates decision-making responsibility to both parents. This is usually evident in situations where both parents are taking an active part in their child’s nurturing and care.

But no matter the outcome of these decisions, they are taken while keeping the child’s best interests in mind. That is why, when an instance of domestic violence is noticed in a child custody case, the West Virginia court looks deeper into the matter.

In such cases, the court may revoke joint decision-making responsibilities and put further restrictions on child custody and visitation. In some cases, the parent who is accused of domestic violence can lose their child’s custody altogether.

Domestic Violence Has a Broad Meaning In West Virginia

The phrase “domestic violence” not only refers to physical abuse but also includes other types of harmful acts such as emotional abuse, sexual abuse, as well as harassment, and threats.

If a victim of domestic violence reports any incidents about their spouse or partner’s actions, this can significantly affect their child custody proceedings.

The Parent May Lose Any Rights to Custody

During divorce or child custody cases, spouses or partners may bring up domestic violence incidents from the past. Depending upon the severity of these incidents, the parent accused of domestic violence can often face significant consequences. As mentioned above, they can often lose their decision-making responsibilities. Additionally, they may also be unable to have extensive custody or unmonitored visits.

Victims of Domestic Violence Can File for a Protective Order

Whether the allegations involve direct physical or emotional harm to the child or not, the parent who has experienced domestic violence can file for a protective order. This order is filed if the victims of domestic violence fear for their own or their child’s safety. When filed, this legal instrument challenges the accused parent’s rights to child custody.

Monitored Parenting Can Come Into Effect

In other instances, the court can take additional evidence into account during the hearing procedure and consider the possibility of monitored parenting and exchange programs. In monitored parenting, non-custodial parents cannot maintain contact with their child without a designated third-party who monitors the interaction for the child’s safety. In monitored exchange, these parties oversee the child’s custodial exchange to limit contact between parents.

The Full Consequences Depend Upon a Case to Case Basis

Accusing a partner of domestic violence is a serious allegation to make. That is why the court takes a strict approach in providing safety to the victim and their child. However, the full consequences of these allegations depend on a case to case basis.

To ensure that you and your child remain safe and together through such situations, you must hire a reliable child custody attorney. In instances where you have to present detailed arguments and evidence, having an experienced lawyer by your side provides you with the peace of mind you need.

Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney in West Virginia

There can be many factors and complexities in domestic violence cases and how it relates to child custody, which is why it’s recommended to consult with an experienced domestic violence attorney with these matters. At Johnson Law Office, PLLC, we will guide you through this process and fight your case. Contact us today for a free consultation where we can discuss the best course of action for your situation!