Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Proposed bill would let younger children speak in child custody cases

From WHSV3

A bill is set to be passed in the West Virginia House of Delegates to change when a child can talk and give a preferred outcome in a custody case.

The proposal by Delegate Geoff Foster would allow a child of any age to speak in a hearing if the judge believes they are mature enough. Currently, the child must be at least 14 years old to even be considered fit.

"We've got an arbitrary number in our family court system that says basically a child's opinion doesn't matter whether the judge thinks they are of sufficient mindset of maturity to make a relevant decision," Foster said.

The bill would allow a child more options in a tough situation, Foster said. Most often, a child wants to spend as much time with both parents as possible.

"Children do best when they have contact with both parents," psychologist Dr. Timothy Saar said. "Very young children need to have very frequent contact going back and forth. Older children can do a little bit better with longer times between visitation. But it is important that there is communication between the children and both sets of parents."

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https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2020/01/proposed-bill-would-let-younger-children-speak-in-child-custody-cases.html

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