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West Virginia child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this West Virginia child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is West Virginia child support determined?

In West Virginia, either parent may be ordered to make periodic child support payments and provide health insurance coverage for the child. All relevant factors will be considered.

There are official West Virginia Child Support guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to help determine the correct amount of child support. The guidelines will be followed, unless the parents have agreed to a child support amount approved by the courts, or the courts determine the guidelines are unjust for a particular case.

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, is removed from disability status by a court order, or the child dies.

Upon finding good cause, a court may order that child support payments continue beyond the age of 18 if the child is unmarried, residing with a parent and is enrolled as a full-time student in a secondary or vocational program and making substantial progress towards a diploma.  In this case, payments will not extend past the date that the child reaches the age of 20.

West Virginia's custody guidelines:

In West Virginia, either parent may be granted custody of the child. The is a presumption in favor of the parent who has been the primary caretaker for the child. The statute has no specific considerations listed. Also, West Virginia does not have a statutory provision for joint custody.

West Virginia's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If it is not, then the courts may require either parent to provide health insurance coverage for the child.

Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for West Virginia child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect a substantial change in circumstances.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Most states, including West Virginia, have a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. In fact, in West Virginia, every divorce decree involving children has a provision for the withholding of child support. The payments are withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

While joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan in much of the nation, West Virginia does not have a statutory provision for joint custody. Usually, joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of parental responsibility for all decisions relating to the child, but it isn’t always a 50-50 sharing of time with the child. One parent is usually named the primary joint custodian and the other is allowed visitation, though they do share the decision-making authority.

How West Virginia determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. When the courts have not awarded the parents with the equal-time alternating residential care provision, and the parents cannot agree to exactly when visitation will occur, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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