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Child Support and Custody Disputes

Our family handles emotional cases with care

When children are involved, the thought of handling a divorce or going to family court can be frightening. Emotions run high, and it may seem like it's impossible to find a solution that meets everyone's needs.

We can help. Recht Law Offices has been serving the Weirton area for over six decades, and we know the community and the law. As a family-run law firm, we're passionate about helping families move forward during some of the toughest times in our lives. Attorney Elisa Recht Marlin can help resolve your child support or child custody case with care and compassion for parents and children alike.

Types of Custody Arrangements in West Virginia

In general, family courts in West Virginia avoid awarding sole custody to one parent unless there is a particular reason one parent should not have custody, such as drug abuse or concerns about the safety of the child. The preference is to use a shared-parenting arrangement. Two such arrangements exist:

  • In basic shared parenting, one parent has physical custody of the child for the majority of the year, with the other parent keeping the child or children overnight for less than 35 percent of nights.
  • In extended shared parenting, each parent has the child overnight for at least 35 percent of the year, which means the distribution of time between the two parents is relatively equitable.

As a rule, the courts prefer to have the parents create a custody and visitation schedule themselves before asking a judge to make an order. However, that proposed parenting schedule must be satisfactory to the court. That's why it's important to consult with a child custody attorney to ensure that your interests as well as your child's are represented.

Moreover, if it is necessary to have a judge determine the custody arrangement, you'll need us to represent you in court. Judges in West Virginia are required by law to use the "best interests of the child" standard. This means the relationship between the child and the parents, the physical and mental health of both parents, and each parent's ability to care for the child, among other relevant factors, will all be considered. We can help you review every aspect of your case and anticipate the factors that will be relevant in court.

Factors involved in child support in West Virginia

West Virginia courts use a simple formula as a starting point for child support. Based on the number of children, the parents' combined income and the particulars of each parent's financial life and the child's needs, the court will determine a basic child support amount, then determine each parent's contribution toward that amount. The parent who has physical custody of the child then receives payments from the other parent.

However, there are many reasons why a court may need to deviate from this basic formula. For instance, the paying parent's income might be low enough that paying child support could put him or her below the poverty line. Either the child or the parent may have special needs or educational expenses that need to be accounted for.

Moreover, even a fair child support order may later need to be modified because of changes in either parent's circumstances. If that's the case, you need to ask the court to make the change right away. Child support awards can't be changed retroactively, so if you wait to make a change, you'll be on the hook for many payments you can't afford - or won't receive the payments you need.

If you're embroiled in a child support or child custody case, you need Recht Law Offices on your side. Find out how a family law attorney can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.