As a family lawyer, custody disputes are possibly the most challenging issue I face working with families. Often, both parents are fiercely protective of their time with their children and are ready and even eager to take the gloves off when it comes to custody disputes. At Bechtel Family Law, we understand emotions are running high and can help defuse the difficult issues to the extent that the two parties are communicating without hostility.
Effective in June 2022, West Virginia adopted a presumptive and rebuttable 50/50 custodial allocation with a lengthy list of limiting factors. This means that the court will begin the analysis of the facts of each case with a presumptive 50/50 custody allocation. Each parent can then argue why equal parenting time should not apply based on the limiting factors. The former caretaking analysis will no longer apply, which means that a non-working parent no longer has an advantage in the allocation of custody.
The goal of the judge is to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child. Parents are often ordered to mediation to work together to agree on a detailed parenting plan before asking the judge to make an order. Mediation can be done with or without your attorney present.
The court expects a proposed parenting plan to maximize parenting time with both parents, allocate major decision-making between the parties and provide a method for resolving parenting disputes.
Michelle Bechtel has more than 20 years of experience working in family law and holds an accounting degree from West Virginia University, which makes her uniquely qualified in all manner of high-stakes family law issues. She has helped hundreds of West Virginians develop mutually-beneficial divorces and resolve complex and contested matters, including difficult custody issues.