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West Virginia


ARTICLE 9.  ALLOCATION OF CUSTODIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND
DECISION-MAKING RESPONSIBILITY OF CHILDREN.
PART 1.  SCOPE; OBJECTIVES; PARTIES
AND PARENT EDUCATION CLASSES.
§48-9-101.  Scope of article; legislative findings and declarations.
     (a) This article sets forth principles governing the allocation of custodial and decision-making responsibility for a minor child when the parents do not live together.
     (b) The Legislature finds and declares that it is the public policy of this state to assure that the best interest of children is the court's primary concern in allocating custodial and decision-making responsibilities between parents who do not live together.  In furtherance of this policy, the Legislature declares that a child's best interest will be served by assuring that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children, to educate parents on their rights and responsibilities and the effect their separation may have on children, to encourage mediation of disputes, and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or divorced.

PART 1.  SCOPE; OBJECTIVES; PARTIES
AND PARENT EDUCATION CLASSES.
§48-9-104.  Parent education classes.
     (a) The family court shall, by order, and with the approval of the supreme court of appeals, designate an organization or agency to establish and operate education programs designed for parents who have filed an action for divorce, paternity, support, separate maintenance or other custody proceeding and who have minor children.  The education programs shall be designed to instruct and educate parents about the effects of divorce and custody disputes on their children and to teach parents ways to help their children and minimize their trauma.
     (b) The family court shall issue an order requiring parties to an action for divorce involving a minor child or children to attend parent education classes established pursuant to subsection (a) of this section unless the court determines that attendance is not appropriate or necessary based on the conduct or circumstances of the parties.  The court may, by order, establish sanctions for failure to attend.  The court may also order parties to an action involving paternity, separate maintenance or modification of a divorce decree to attend such classes.
PART 2.  PARENTING PLANS.
§48-9-201.  Parenting agreements.
     (a) If the parents agree to one or more provisions of a parenting plan, the court shall so order, unless it makes specific findings that:
     (1) The agreement is not knowing or voluntary;  or
     (2) The plan would be harmful to the child.
     (b) The court, at its discretion and on any basis it deems sufficient, may conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there is a factual basis for a finding under subdivision (1) or (2), subsection (a) of this section.  When there is credible information that child abuse as defined by section 49-1-3 of this code or domestic violence as defined by section 27-202 of this code has occurred, a hearing is mandatory and if the court determines that abuse has occurred, appropriate protective measures shall be ordered.
     (c) If an agreement, in whole or in part, is not accepted by the court under the standards set forth in subsection (a) of this section, the court shall allow the parents the opportunity to negotiate another agreement.
PART 2.  PARENTING PLANS.
§48-9-202.  Court-ordered services.
     (a)(1) The court shall inform the parents, or require them to be informed, about:
     (A) How to prepare a parenting plan;
     (B) The impact of family dissolution on children and how the needs of children facing family dissolution can best be addressed;
     (C) The impact of domestic abuse on children and resources for addressing domestic abuse; and
     (D) Mediation or other nonjudicial procedures designed to help them achieve an agreement.
     (2) The court shall require the parents to attend parent education classes.
     (3) If parents are unable to resolve issues and agree to a parenting plan, the court shall require mediation unless application of the procedural rules promulgated pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section indicates that mediation is inappropriate in the particular case.
     (b) The supreme court of appeals shall make and promulgate rules that will provide for premediation screening procedures to determine whether domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, acts or threats of duress or coercion, substance abuse, mental illness or other such elements would adversely affect the safety of a party, the ability of a party to meaningfully participate in the mediation or the capacity of a party to freely and voluntarily consent to any proposed agreement reached as a result of the mediation.  Such rules shall authorize a family court judge to consider alternatives to mediation which may aid the parties in establishing a parenting plan. Such rules shall not establish a per se bar to mediation if domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, acts or threats of duress or coercion, substance abuse, mental illness or other such elements exist, but may be the basis for the court, in its discretion, not to order services under subsection (a) of this section or not to require a parent to have face-to-face meetings with the other parent.
mediation are not to be considered as state revenues for purposes of this subsection.
     §48-9-203.  Proposed temporary parenting plan; temporary order; amendment; vacation of order.
     (a) A parent seeking a temporary order relating to parenting shall file and serve a proposed temporary parenting plan by motion. The other parent, if contesting the proposed temporary parenting plan, shall file and serve a responsive proposed parenting plan. Either parent may move to have a proposed temporary parenting plan entered as part of a temporary order.  The parents may enter an agreed temporary parenting plan at any time as part of a temporary order.  The proposed temporary parenting plan may be supported by relevant evidence and shall be verified and shall state at a minimum the following:
§48-9-204.  Criteria for temporary parenting plan.
     (a) After considering the proposed temporary parenting plan filed pursuant to section 9-203 and other relevant evidence presented, the court shall make a temporary parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.  In making this determination, the court shall give particular consideration to:
§48-9-205.  Permanent parenting plan.
     (a) A party seeking a judicial allocation of custodial responsibility or decision-making responsibility under this article shall file a proposed parenting plan with the court.  Parties may file a joint plan.  A proposed plan shall be verified and shall state, to the extent known or reasonably discoverable by the filing party or parties:
to the child;
     (1) A parent who has been exercising a significant majority of the custodial responsibility for the child should be allowed to relocate with the child so long as that parent shows that the relocation is in good faith for a legitimate purpose and to a location that is reasonable in light of the purpose.  The percentage of custodial responsibility that constitutes a significant majority of custodial responsibility is seventy percent or more


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