H. B. 2997

(By Delegate Mahan)

[Introduced February 13, 2003 ; referred to the

Committee on the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend and reenact section one, article six, chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to expanding the possible venues where a child neglect or abuse petition can be filed.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section one, article six, chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
§49-6-1. Petition to court when child believed neglected or abused; notice.

(a) If the department or a reputable person believes that a child is neglected or abused, the department or the person may present a petition setting forth the facts to the circuit court in the county in which wherein the child normally resides, wherein the alleged abuse or neglect occurred, wherein the custodial respondent resides, wherein any other named party resides
or to the judge of such court in vacation. The petition shall be verified by the oath of some credible person having knowledge of the facts. The petition shall allege specific conduct including time and place, how such the conduct comes within the statutory definition of neglect or abuse with references thereto, any supportive services provided by the department to remedy the alleged circumstances and the relief sought. Upon filing of the petition, the court shall set a time and place for a hearing and shall appoint counsel for the child. When there is an order for temporary custody pursuant to section three of this article, such the hearing shall be held within thirty days of such the order, unless a continuance for a reasonable time is granted to a date certain, for good cause shown.
(b) The petition and notice of the hearing shall be served upon both parents and any other custodian, giving to such the
parents or custodian at least ten days' notice. Notice shall also be given to the department, any foster or preadoptive parent, and any relative providing care for the child. In cases wherein personal service within West Virginia cannot be obtained after due diligence upon any parent or other custodian, a copy of the petition and notice of the hearing shall be mailed to such the person by certified mail, addressee only, return receipt requested, to the last known address of such person. If said the person signs the certificate, service shall be complete and said the certificate shall be filed as proof of said the service with the clerk of the circuit court. If service cannot be obtained by personal service or by certified mail, notice shall be by publication as a Class II legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code. A notice of hearing shall specify the time and place of the hearing, the right to counsel of the child and parents or other custodians at every stage of the proceedings and the fact that such the proceedings can result in the permanent termination of the parental rights. Failure to object to defects in the petition and notice shall not be construed as a waiver.
(c) At the time of the institution of any proceeding under this article, the department shall provide supportive services in an effort to remedy circumstances detrimental to a child.

Note: The purpose of this bill is to incorporate language contained in Rule 4a of the West Virginia Rules of Procedure for Abuse and Neglect into current statute by expanding the possible venues where an abuse or neglect petition can be filed.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.