Patricia Ann S. v. James Daniel S.
West Virginia Supreme Court
435 S.E.2d 6 (1993)
Patricia S. (plaintiff) and James S. (defendant) had two sons and a daughter. Patricia filed for divorce when the couple’s sons were 11 and eight and their daughter was four. The evidence established that Patricia had been a kindergarten teacher but left her job when her first child was born. Although Patricia was the homemaker and James the wage earner, James got the boys ready for school, gave them breakfast, and participated in childcare duties after work. Patricia prepared evening meals on weekdays, and James prepared meals on weekends. Patricia and James shared responsibility for putting the children to bed and disciplining them. James used a belt to discipline his sons and his hand to discipline his daughter. Patricia had attended parenting classes and was using other discipline methods. Both parents were active in the children’s school and social activities. Neighbors and friends testified that Patricia had trouble dealing with the children and called them vulgar names. A psychologist James called testified that the children said Patricia beat them. The psychologist opined that the children perceived their father as the more nurturing parent, had more faith in him, and were afraid of their mother. A neutral expert testified to his opinion that the children felt emotionally safer with the father and would prefer to live with him. The father was perceived as emotional and supportive and the mother as angry. The expert opined that it was in the children’s best interests that the boys live with their father and the daughter with her mother. Another psychologist called by James stressed the importance of keeping the children together. In her petition to the circuit court, Patricia indicated that James physically and psychologically abused her. The circuit court granted the couple a divorce and awarded custody of the three children to James. Patricia appealed the custody award.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
Dissent (Workman, C.J.)
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