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How to Address Child Visitation Issues in West Virginia

A close-up view of an adult and a child holding hands while walking through a grassy field.

In modern divorce and separation agreements, it’s common for the court to order visitation (or parenting time) in a great deal of detail.

There’s not just a visitation schedule, but also specific guidelines about when and how the child is supposed to be dropped off or picked up, not to mention provisions for holidays, school vacations, and so on.

Our family law attorneys can help you navigate complex issues

Of course, life with children is messy and complicated. Kids have minds of their own, and they may not want to comply with the custody schedule. Conflict between the parents can only add to the difficulty of the situation.

As a parent, your job is to do everything you can to comply with the court order, but you also need to protect your child’s safety and deal with the practical realities of life. These are complex situations that may require the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

Your obligations as a parent within a child custody order

As a parent, your job is to do everything you can to comply with the court’s child custody order. That means dropping off and picking up your child in the manner specified in the court order. It also means communicating with your co-parent in a timely manner if you are unable to comply with the custody schedule.

What if your child doesn’t want to visit their other parent? Your legal obligation, as frustrating as it may be, is to do everything in your power to get your child to follow the custody schedule.

That means explaining why it’s important for them to spend time with both parents and why you have to follow the judge’s order. If you don’t do everything you can to comply, a judge is unlikely to accept “my child didn’t want to go” as an excuse.

It’s important to keep in mind that child custody is distinct from other aspects of your separation agreement, such as child support or spousal support.

That is to say, you can’t deny the other parent visitation just because they aren’t paying their child support. You have to comply with your side of the court order and take action in court to force compliance on the other side.

Legal options if a parent isn’t following the child custody order

If a parent is not complying with court-ordered visitation, the usual remedy is for the other parent to go to court and hold them in contempt.

If the court agrees that the other parent isn’t following the order, then the judge will order the other parent to make the court-ordered visitation happen. Failing to comply with a contempt order can lead to fines and even jail time.

In some cases, a parent may also be able to go to court and request a modification of the child custody order itself. West Virginia follows the “best interests of the child” rule in child custody matters, and that includes modifications to existing child custody orders.

So, if you want to change the child custody arrangement, you need to show the court that circumstances have changed such that it would be in the best interests of the child to modify the custody arrangement and visitation schedule.

What to do if there are issues with the visitation schedule

Ideally, the best way to handle issues with child custody and visitation is to communicate with the other parent. If you can mutually agree on an adjustment or solution to the conflict, then there’s usually no problem as far as the family courts are concerned.

However, if your relationship with your co-parent is contentious or you simply can’t agree, your job is to do everything in your power to comply with the court order until and unless it is changed.

At the same time, you need to take seriously any legitimate concerns your child may raise about their safety or unhealthy interactions with the other parent.

Figuring out what to do in these situations can be difficult and emotionally fraught. That’s why it’s so important to get legal advice as soon as possible.

If you’re dealing with issues with child custody or visitation in West Virginia, talk to an attorney who can protect your rights and represent your best interests in family court. Give us a call or contact us online to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer at Klie Law Offices.

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