Judith R. v. Hey

In Judith R. v. Hey, 185 W.Va. 117, 405 S.E.2d 447 (1990), a circuit court directed that the mother had thirty days from the date of the hearing to either marry the man with whom she was cohabiting or to move out and establish separate living arrangements for her and her daughter. In that case, the court further ordered that if neither alternative was met within such time period, custody of the parties' fourteen-year-old daughter would be granted to the father. The Court reiterated that a careful review of the whole record in the Judith R. case was void of any evidence that she was an unfit parent or that her conduct had created any deleterious effect on the child. The Court observed that the child in question was over the age of fourteen years and recognized that "the legislature of this state has granted her the right to nominate her own guardian." Id. at 120, 405 S.E.2d at 450. The Court explained: "While W.Va.Code 44-10-4 (1982) applies to circumstances where a guardian is to be appointed in lieu of a natural parent, we have previously found the statute to be 'evidence of the legislature's conclusion concerning the age at which an adolescent should be given some substantial say in his own affairs.' S.H. v. R.L.H., 169 W. Va. 550, 555, 289 S.E.2d 186, 189 (1982)." Id. The Court concluded that "an ex-wife's cohabitation with an adult male not her husband does not constitute grounds for termination or reduction of alimony award absent showing of change in financial condition of ex-wife by reason of contribution by the person with whom she cohabits." 185 W. Va. at 121, 405 S.E.2d at 451.