Parental Rights in West Virginia
West Virginia Parental Rights News
Just Two Weeks Until the Big Day! Please join us in the PA capitol rotunda…and invite your friends and lawmaker to come! Now’s your chance to get your questions answered, get your friends and lawmakers excited about parental rights, and send a message that parental rights matter! HSLDA’s and ParentalRight.org’s Maggie McKneely (pictured) will be…
West Virginia State Law and Parental Rights
The Supreme Court of West Virginia has held that in In re Willis, West Virginia law acknowledges parental rights as fundamental in W. Va. Code § 49-1-1(a) and W. Va. Code § 49-6D-2(a). However, the law does not currently provide them more explicit protection.
"The purpose of this chapter is to provide a coordinated system of child welfare and juvenile justice for the children of this state that has goals to: . . . (4) Recognize the fundamental rights of children and parents; . . . ."
"In pursuit of the purposes of this chapter to provide a comprehensive system of child welfare throughout the State which will (1) assure to each child such care and guidance, preferably in the child's home, as will serve the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical welfare of the child, and (2) preserve and strengthen the family ties wherever possible, while recognizing both the fundamental rights of parenthood and the State's responsibility to assist the family in providing the necessary training and education of all children, the legislature enacts this article to provide for the protection of the children of this State from abuse and neglect and to provide direction to responsible state officers. This article is enacted in pursuit of the purpose of this chapter and the heretofore expressed intention of the legislature to provide for the removal of a child from the custody of the child's parents only when the child's welfare cannot be otherwise adequately safeguarded, and is enacted to secure to a child removed from the family a degree of custody, care and control consistent with the child's best interests and the other goals of this chapter, as expressed in section one, article one of this chapter."
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West Virginia Courts and Parental Rights
However, this precedent is subject to change.
In re Willis, 157 W.Va. 225, (1973) (internal citations omitted): "In the law concerning custody of minor children, no rule is more firmly established than that the right of a natural parent to the custody of his or her infant child is paramount to that of any other person. The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized the right to raise one's children is a fundamental personal liberty guaranteed by the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."