Child custody; cases that award joint custody. (HB606)

Introduced By

Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Oak Hill)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Shared child custody.  Establishes a presumption in child custody cases that an award of joint legal custody, with physical custody, to the extent feasible, shared equally between the parties, is in the best interests of the child. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/10/2012Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/12 12100191D
01/10/2012Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/13/2012Assigned Courts sub: Civil
01/23/2012Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
02/14/2012Left in Courts of Justice


Diane Poljacik writes:

Its not rocket science…its plain and simple common sense.

FIRST AND FOREMOST …delete the word “visitation” since it goes against 20-124.2 section A where it states “the procedures for determining custody and visitation arrangements shall insofar as practical, and consistent with the ends of justice, preserve the dignity and resources of family members.” By stripping away the word “parent” from one of a child’s parents in a custody “award”, the court is NOT preserving the dignity of the parent OR the child and they are stripping the resources of that loving parent from the child. A child is not an AWARD. The courts need to stop “awarding” children to one parent and stop using the word “visitation” for the other parent.

Instead of the word “visitation”….The Court should revert to the word “CO-PARENTING” since that is what parents do. Parents don’t VISIT their children…they PARENT their children. It is obvious that the only reason to label one parent as a “visitor” is to demean them and to negate their role in their child’s life. How is that preserving dignity and resources? It creates a more negative atmosphere. What kind of sense does it make when a loving caring law-abiding parent can walk into a courthouse as a parent and leave that same courthouse as a visitor to his or her own child? These parents have done NOTHING to put their parental rights in jeopardy and yet they walk into court and face a stranger who tells them they can only “visit” their child roughly 4 days per month (every other weekend). How is this legal???

The idea of shared custody is frowned upon by some because of the false assumption that it creates instability for the child…but someone please explain to me how removing an active loving parent from that child’s life and replacing that with an average of 4 days per month with that parent CREATES stability for that child?? IT DOESN’T!!

The fact remains that allowing children to MAINTAIN a loving active relationship with each parent when their parents split from each other creates stability for the child. The reality for these children is that when their parents split, they now have TWO homes…moms house and dads house…and that is what this panel needs to keep in mind. Ripping one parent from a child’s life and relabeling that parent as a visitor does NOT create “stability” for a child. Stability is created and maintained by both parents creating a co-parenting schedule that works in the best interest of THEIR child. Each family situation is different. I can attest that in my role as a mediator, I see more parents every day who strive to reach a co-parenting agreement that keeps them both actively involved with the children who were born to the two of them and I commend those parents who love their children enough to do so. There are so many different schedules for co parenting…some do weekly rotations and children in those situations do tend to do better because their parents are both actively involved. There are also situations where if the kids are with one parent during the school week, they are with the other parent each weekend…or if they alternate weekends, then the children are with the other parent during the entire summer and most holiday breaks. This gives children extended parenting time with their mother AND their father.

Its time to STOP the antiquated custom of “awarding” children to one parent and demoting the other parent to that of “paying visitor” when both parents are active loving parents who have done NOTHING to deserve having their parental rights stripped away.

Do the RIGHT thing and make this bill a LAW as soon as possible…and by all means, change the insulting label of “visitor” that that of CO-PARENT…they way it should be.

Helen Gregory writes:

Thank you Diane, your statements are so true. I know from first hand
knowledge. My son has gone through hell for 3 years fighting to be in
his childrens lives. This should not be the case. Dads love their children