April 12

Child Support Guidelines in West Virginia

During and after divorce, one of the most common concerns that West Virginia parents have is how child support will be determined and set forth in the final decree and parenting plan. Often, parents are concerned that child support will be unfair or unenforceable. Fortunately, West Virginia has laws and guidelines in place to help prevent unfair child support orders, and also to ensure that child support orders are followed.

West Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines

Read on to learn about the basic child support guidelines in West Virginia, as well as how these guidelines commonly affect couples seeking divorce, or who are already divorced.

Both Parents are Responsible – It is a common misconception that after divorce, only one parent is responsible for the physical and financial well-being of the child or children. In West Virginia, it is assumed that both parents will continue to care for children of the marriage. Child support guidelines are established to help ensure that child support orders are fair to each parent.

Determining Child Support Amounts – Child support will be determined after the court factors in the income of each parent, as well as the number of children to be supported. These guidelines are the same for parents who are married or unmarried, until the time that the child reaches 18 years of age, graduates from high school, or in the event of a physical or mental disability.

Child Support does not Equal Only Support – Child support guidelines establish a base figure that is a percentage of the total income of the couple. Depending on the amount of each party’s individual income, that percentage will then be divided into two parts, though they likely will not be equal. In most cases, the parent who makes more income will pay a higher percentage of child support than the other parent. That does not mean that the parent with more income will pay the full child support amount to the other parent, but that he or she will pay the higher of the two percentages of the child support order. For example, if child support guidelines establish $400 for child support, then that is the amount that will be divided into two parts based on the parental income. Therefore, one parent may be ordered to cover 60 percent, while the other is ordered to cover 40. In such cases, the parent who has primary physical custody will receive a monthly payment of $160 from the other parent, and will be expected to cover the remaining $240.

Modification – Another common misconception is that once child support is ordered, it cannot be modified to match changing life circumstances. West Virginia child support guidelines allows parents the ability to file a petition of modification if it is proven that either parent’s situation has changed, or the needs of the child has changed. In order to determine if modification will be allowed, the court will consider any special needs, additional educational or medical expenses, long-distance cost of visitation, additional child support orders, and whether the modification will result in either parent falling below the poverty line.

Enforcement – Enforcement of child support orders is taken seriously in West Virginia. The Bureau of Child Support Enforcement is the governing agency that ensures that child support orders are maintained. It is important that any parent paying or receiving child support maintain clear records and document any changes in personal circumstances.

April 12

Common Causes of Automobile Accidents

Every year across the United States, millions of dollars and lives are lost due to automobile accidents. Unfortunately, many of the accidents that cause this damage are needless and preventable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since the recording of the first automobile accident in 1896, more than 25-million people have died due accidents involving automobiles. This startling statistic represents the nearly 1.2-million people who die in the U.S. every year. What is even more disconcerting is the fact that the WHO believes that this figure could increase by as much as 65 percent over the next six years.

While it is true that no one can guarantee that they will not be in an automobile accident, there are certain factors and situations that West Virginia motorists can remember that may lessen the chance of being involved in an unfortunate accident. Being aware of the common causes of automobile accidents is the first step toward operating automobiles safety and within legal guidelines.

The most common causes of automobile accidents are:

Distracted Driving – According to the American Automobile Association, distracted driving accounts for between 25 and 50 percent of all accidents. The most common distractions include eating, mobile device use, paying attention to children or other passengers, rubbernecking at accident scenes or roadside events, adjusting controls inside the vehicle, and reading. Distracted driving is needless and should be prevented at all costs. Choosing to drive while distracted is choosing to be negligent, which could result in serious injuries, loss of life, and expensive property damages.

Drowsy Driving – Driver fatigue, also known as drowsy driving, is another common cause of automobile accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for more than 100,000 accidents in the U.S. every year. Like distracted driving, drowsy driving is negligent and should be avoided. Individuals who must drive during the overnight hours should take regularly scheduled breaks, be willing to pull over to nap, never consume alcohol, and share the driving responsibility with another driver.

Impaired Driving – Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is one of the most commonly injurious or fatal causes of automobile accidents in the U.S. In fact, estimates indicate that tens of thousands of individuals die in the U.S. every year in automobile accidents caused by impairment. West Virginia motorists should avoid operating a vehicle after even one drink of alcohol, or one dose of a medication that may cause drowsiness.

Speeding – In today’s fast-paced society, speeding is a common occurrence. Unfortunately, speeding is not only dangerous in and of itself; it also contributes to the possibility that a collision or crash will be more catastrophic.

Aggressive Driving – Aggressive driving, also known as “road rage,” is another common cause of automobile accidents. Aggressive driving includes numerous behaviors including tailgating, verbal or physical assaults, deliberately creating challenges for other drivers, failing to yield to right of way or traffic signals, and others.

Weather Conditions – While weather conditions are not on their own negligent, West Virginia motorists are tasked with upholding the law and driving in a way that is appropriate for conditions. Motorists driving in rain, ice, snow, or fog should be cautious, slow down, and be aware of their surroundings.

April 12

Ease the Strain of a Contested Divorce

While it is true that in many cases of divorce, the couple decides, together, that dissolving the marriage is the best course of action, many cases are not so easily resolved. In fact, contested divorce cases are commonly portrayed in the media, especially among couples with complex assets, children, business interest, or multiple properties. In the real world of divorce, the fact is that in many cases, one spouse wants to divorce the other, regardless of the other spouse’s feelings or wishes. When this happens, the divorce becomes contested and emotional, and often results in a courtroom battle for resolution.

How to Avoid Courtroom Drama

Even unhappy couples can avoid a lengthy and expensive courtroom battle by following some simple guidelines provided by expert divorce mediators. As such, divorce experts recommend the following to ease the strain of a contested divorce:

Get Help – At the first sign of a contentious battle brewing, divorcing couples should consider seeking the professional guidance of a counselor, divorce coach, or mediator. These individuals are trained to be objective, supportive parties to the divorce process, and can provide a safe, constructive approach to resolving conflict.

Show Compassion – Compassion is not one of the most common terms used in the same sentence as divorce. Even so, experts recommend showing compassion as one way to ease the strain of divorce. Even if the spouses cannot agree on an issue, it is important that they each attempt to show compassion and understanding for the feelings and desires of the other.

Communicate – Communication is one of the most important keys to a successful divorce. Both spouses should make an earnest attempt to be forthcoming, honest, and respectful during the process of divorce. Defensiveness, anger, and bitterness will only widen the gap between the spouses, which often results in additional conflict.

Take Time – Just like planning a wedding takes time often, so does divorce as well. If one spouse does not want to divorce, it may be helpful for the couple to take some time to consider the situation and determine the best way to proceed. In many cases, it just takes a bit of time for both parties to come to an understanding of the feelings and desires of the other.

Find all Options – A heated, contentious battle does not have to be the answer when one spouse wants divorce and the other does not. For many couples, options like divorce mediation or an uncontested divorce provide non-contentious options for dissolving the marriage, which does not require appearing before a judge. The best way to determine what options are available is to speak with an experienced family law attorney who is familiar with West Virginia’s divorce laws and guidelines.

April 12

West Virginia Shows High Rate of Fatal Automobile Accidents

It is an unfortunate reality that many automobile accidents in West Virginia result in fatal injuries. In addition to the loss of life, fatal automobile accidents result in financial hardship, pain and suffering, and in many cases, property loss as well. Even the most cautious, safe motorists can fall victim to the tragic events that surround automobile accidents, and in some cases, accidents are just that – and are unpreventable. However, in many cases, fatal automobile accidents are the result of negligence, recklessness, or preventable situations.

While understanding statistics may not prevent all automobile accidents, driver awareness is an excellent tool to help reduce the chance of a catastrophic accident. In fact, the more aware that drivers are of the circumstances that contribute to automobile accidents, the more likely they are to avoid many such circumstances.

Automobile Accident Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly releases information and statistics on automobile accidents in order to raise awareness. Statistics released in 2011 indicate the following concerning West Virginia:

There were 337 fatal automobile accidents in West Virginia in 2011

  • 238 of the fatal automobile accidents occurred in rural areas
  • 99 fatal automobile accidents occurred in urban areas
  • 463 motorists lost their lives in fatal accidents in 2011

The majority of motorists killed in automobile accidents were over 21 years of age
261 vehicle occupants died in fatal accidents including 132 individuals who were not properly restrained, and 84 individuals who were properly restrained

Traffic statistics in 2011 indicate that only a handful of fatalities in West Virginia were among young children and toddlers, which officials believe is due to a high rate of safety belt and child seat use. Additionally, in West Virginia, children up to age eight are required to sit in a child safety seat.

In addition to the number and concentration of automobile accidents, the NHTSA and other agencies regularly release data regarding the cause of automobile accidents. In 2011, the most significant causes of automobile accident fatalities include:

  • 250 roadway departures
  • 202 single vehicle crashes
  • 114 speeding accidents
  • 110 rollover accidents
  • 37 intersection-related accidents
  • 34 accidents involving large trucks