Ideas to Improve the “One Size Fits All WV Child Custody Bill”, HB 2364

I just sent this letter to each member of the WV Senate Judiciary Committee and staff on the Pending Child Custody Bill:
Dear Senator _______:
Thank you for considering input on HB 2363. I have been asked to say something constructive, from the perspective of 48 years as a practicing lawyer.
1. I am mailing you my book, “Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer”, nearly half of which focuses on family law, mediation, and negotiation.
2. Even if you have your staffer peruse it, it is my measured view on the general subject. It contains some good ideas.
3. I attach here a few of my chapters. I suggest “The Maze of Child Custody in WV”, a look Prior To our current law that removed the requirement for “caretaking functions” calculations. It ain’t simple.
4. I also include my two articles on “winning” a child custody case by showing you can involve the other parent in the lives of the children.
5. IF there is gong to be a presumption in favor of 50%/50%, please leave incentive for parties to mediate and solve their differences.
6. If we established lawyers are to be kept out of the mediation pool because the “sliding scale” is so low, at least consider increasing the rates charged and paid, as the “slave wage rates” have reduced the pool of capable mediators.
7. Give some guidelines on what impacts “the best interests of the child” such as an ability to mentor the children in their education, to monitor their health and obtain proper treatment, and the ability and willingness to be transparent and involve the other parent in the lives of their children.
8. IF a parent, prior to separation, has refused to be involved in the lives of the children by spending lots of time “out”, working, “working away”, hunting, fishing, or “drinking with the boys or girls”, force that parent to demonstrate a new commitment to change his/her focus onto the children.
9. Let’ not let this be the “Paternal Grandparents’ and Girlfriends’ Child Custody Act”!
10. Sniff out and deal with the parent who seeks 50%/50% in order to avoid a child support obligation. That’s not a good enough reason.
11. Please don’t remove discretionary powers of our very capable family court judiciary to sniff out the facts and apply them to each case.
12. Fund the appointment of guardians ad litem (lawyers for the children).
13. Don’t require a fee waiver for parents who clearly can’t afford their lawyer and to pay for a guardian ad litem.
14. And, I pray, streamline and improve the mediation process. I’ve attached my suggestions in that regard.
J. Burton Hunter III

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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