WEST virginia legislature
2016 regular session
House Bill 4317
By Delegates foster, mcgeehan, butler, ihle, azinger, fast, moffatt, j. nelson, summers, waxman and miller
[Passed March 12, 2016; in effect ninety days from passage ]
AN ACT to amend and reenact §48-9-209 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to limiting factors in parenting plans; clarifying the court’s consideration of fraudulent reports of domestic violence and child abuse in imposing limits on a parenting plan in order to protect a child from harm; clarifying that a person’s withdrawal of or failure to pursue a report of domestic violence or child abuse is not alone sufficient to establish that report as fraudulent; requiring court to impose limits that are reasonably calculated to protect the child or the child’s parent from harm if a parent who would otherwise be allocated responsibility under a parenting plan has made one or more fraudulent reports of domestic violence or child abuse; and correcting an internal code reference to clarify a parent’s ability to move the court to disclose whether other parent was the source of fraudulent reports of domestic violence or child abuse.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §48-9-209 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9. ALLOCATION OF CUSTODIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND DECISION-MAKING RESPONSIBILITY OF CHILDREN.
Part 2 B Parenting Plans
§48-9-209. Parenting plan; limiting factors.
(a) If either of the parents so requests, or upon receipt of credible information thereof, the court shall determine whether a parent who would otherwise be allocated responsibility under a parenting plan:
(1) Has abused, neglected or abandoned a child, as defined by state law;
(2) Has sexually assaulted or sexually abused a child as those terms are defined in articles eight-b and eight-d, chapter sixty-one of this code;
(3) Has committed domestic violence, as defined in section 27-202;
(4) Has interfered persistently with the other parent's access to the child, except in the case of actions taken for the purpose of protecting the safety of the child or the interfering parent or another family member, pending adjudication of the facts underlying that belief; or
(5) Has made one or more fraudulent reports of domestic violence or child abuse: Provided, That a person’s withdrawal of or failure to pursue a report of domestic violence or child support shall not alone be sufficient to consider that report fraudulent.
(b) If a parent is found to have engaged in any activity specified by subsection (a) of this section, the court shall impose limits that are reasonably calculated to protect the child or child's parent from harm. The limitations that the court shall consider include, but are not limited to:
(1) An adjustment of the custodial responsibility of the parents, including but not limited to:
(A) Increased parenting time with the child to make up for any parenting time the other parent lost as a result of the proscribed activity;
(B) An additional allocation of parenting time in order to repair any adverse effect upon the relationship between the child and the other parent resulting from the proscribed activity; or
(C) The allocation of exclusive custodial responsibility to one of them;
(2) Supervision of the custodial time between a parent and the child;
(3) Exchange of the child between parents through an intermediary, or in a protected setting;
(4) Restraints on the parent from communication with or proximity to the other parent or the child;
(5) A requirement that the parent abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or nonprescribed drugs while exercising custodial responsibility and in the twenty-four hour period immediately preceding such exercise;
(6) Denial of overnight custodial responsibility;
(7) Restrictions on the presence of specific persons while the parent is with the child;
(8) A requirement that the parent post a bond to secure return of the child following a period in which the parent is exercising custodial responsibility or to secure other performance required by the court;
(9) A requirement that the parent complete a program of intervention for perpetrators of domestic violence, for drug or alcohol abuse, or a program designed to correct another factor; or
(10) Any other constraints or conditions that the court deems necessary to provide for the safety of the child, a child's parent or any person whose safety immediately affects the child's welfare.
(c) If a parent is found to have engaged in any activity specified in subsection (a) of this section, the court may not allocate custodial responsibility or decision-making responsibility to that parent without making special written findings that the child and other parent can be adequately protected from harm by such limits as it may impose under subsection (b) of this section. The parent found to have engaged in the behavior specified in subsection (a) of this section has the burden of proving that an allocation of custodial responsibility or decision-making responsibility to that parent will not endanger the child or the other parent.
(d) If the court determines, based on the investigation described in part three of this article or other evidence presented to it, that an accusation of child abuse or neglect, or domestic violence made during a child custody proceeding is false and the parent making the accusation knew it to be false at the time the accusation was made, the court may order reimbursement to be paid by the person making the accusations of costs resulting from defending against the accusations. Such reimbursement may not exceed the actual reasonable costs incurred by the accused party as a result of defending against the accusation and reasonable attorney's fees incurred.
(e) (1) A parent who believes he or she is the subject of activities by the other parent described in subdivision (5) of subsection (a), may move the court pursuant to subdivision (4), subsection (b), section one hundred and one, article five, chapter forty-nine of this code for the Department of Health and Human Resources to disclose whether the other parent was the source of the allegation and, if so, whether the department found the report to be:
(C) Inconclusive; or
(D) Still under investigation.
(2) If the court grants a motion pursuant to this subsection, disclosure by the Department of Health and Human Resources shall be in camera. The court may disclose to the parties information received from the department only if it has reason to believe a parent knowingly made a false report.