Charleston Child Custody & Visitation Lawyer

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Child Custody Attorney in Charleston, WV

Child custody is a very sensitive legal issue that can be incredibly challenging for any parent to face. If you are divorcing and have children with your spouse in Charleston, WV, or if you are an unmarried parent and need a legally enforceable custody order with your coparent, it’s necessary to prepare for the difficult legal proceedings involved in determining custody of your children. This process is likely to be very challenging for any parent, as the final decision is entirely out of their hands. The family court laws of West Virginia require a judge’s discretion to determine appropriate custody and visitation terms in divorces involving parents and custody disputes between unmarried coparents.

If you are preparing for a child custody determination of any kind, it’s vital to have legal counsel you can trust during this difficult process. The right attorney can make a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case, helping you reach more favorable custody and visitation terms than you could have achieved on your own. Attorney Erica Lord and her team at the Erica Lord Law Group can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal representation you need no matter what your custody determination involves.

Why Do I Need a Charleston Child Custody Attorney?

While it may be technically possible to navigate your child custody dispute without an attorney, doing so successfully is far more challenging than many parents may realize. You might think you should have minimal difficulty creating a compelling case for custody, but there is no guarantee that the judge handling your case will discern factors in the same way. Many parents enter custody determinations unprepared for the breadth of issues the judge will cover, and this can easily lead to undesirable outcomes and unbalanced custody terms.

Working with an experienced Charleston child custody lawyer means access to the legal counsel you need to make more informed decisions about your case. Your legal team can help you prepare for your custody and visitation determination by gathering evidence and character references that help you establish your fitness as a parent and your ability to provide for your children’s basic needs. Attorney Erica Lord has nearly 20 years of experience representing clients in West Virginia, and she and her team can provide the carefully tailored legal counsel you need to navigate your custody case successfully.

How Is Child Custody Determined in West Virginia?

Whether you are divorcing your coparent or are involved in a custody dispute as an unmarried parent, a Charleston, WV family court judge will have the final say in your custody dispute. The judge must evaluate numerous factors to determine what sort of custody arrangement would best suit the interests of the children involved in the case. Some of these factors include:

  • The availability of each parent to address their children’s everyday needs. If a parent has a very demanding work schedule, works at night, or spends a lot of time traveling for work, the judge handling their custody determination would be unlikely to award them substantial custody rights, since they would be unlikely to have the schedule flexibility required to raise their children on an appropriate schedule.
  • Each parent’s criminal history. If a parent has any record of criminal convictions, especially any pertaining to domestic violence, child abuse, or drug-related crimes, the judge overseeing the custody dispute is unlikely to award this parent any significant share of custody. It’s likely that a parent with a criminal record will only qualify for limited visitation at most.
  • The unique needs of the child. Some children have disabilities and medical conditions that require careful management and individualized treatment. Parents must demonstrate an ability to accommodate these needs and ensure their children receive all treatment and support they need on a consistent basis.
  • Each parent’s living arrangements. If divorcing or unmarried parents live in relatively close proximity, the judge will evaluate how close each parent is to their children’s schools, daycare centers, and medical providers.
  • The preferences of the child. When a child is old enough to convey their preferences, the judge overseeing the custody case will likely want to hear from the child to determine what they would prefer in terms of custody and visitation.

West Virginia family court judges must be very diligent in assessing all the relevant information involved in a child custody determination. If you are uncertain about what to expect in your forthcoming child custody dispute, it’s vital to consult an experienced Charleston child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Can I Resolve Custody Privately?

Many divorcing couples in the United States are taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution methods, like divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. Alternative dispute resolution allows them to avoid the stress and expense of litigation while also enabling them to have more control over the outcome of divorce. However, divorcing spouses cannot settle child custody privately, nor can unmarried parents develop privately negotiated custody orders. The West Virginia family court system has a legal duty to ensure the best interests of a child are protected in custody determinations.

If you are divorcing your coparent and want to take advantage of the benefits of alternative dispute resolution, you should be prepared for some measure of litigation when it comes to custody and visitation. While you and your spouse may negotiate a parenting plan, this is only a proposal that must be submitted to a Charleston, WV family court judge for review and approval. Similarly, unmarried parents can also develop parenting plan proposals and submit them for review. The judge overseeing the case will evaluate the proposal and make any necessary changes before approving it as a formal custody determination.

Can I Change My Custody Order?

Life can be unpredictable, and you may encounter unexpected events that materially alter the terms of your standing custody order. In this situation, you need to consult an experienced Charleston child custody attorney who can help you with a petition for modification of the order. Family law allows for reasonable modifications to custody and visitation orders if the petitioning party can prove the requested change is both reasonable and necessary.

Whatever your impending custody case may entail, it will be much easier to approach the situation with confidence with an experienced Charleston child custody lawyer on your side. If you are ready to discuss your case with a reliable attorney, contact the Erica Lord Law Group today and schedule a consultation with our team.

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