West Virginia Judiciary

Rules of Practice and Procedure for Family Court

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Table of Contents Full Table of Contents
  1. Security
  2. Records; transcripts; fees; costs; forms
  3. Court files; confidentiality; access; proceedings
  4. Exhibits
  5. Unofficial recording of proceedings

Security

Upon a family court judge's request, the sheriff shall provide a bailiff for any family court proceeding. Except for such bailiffs or persons authorized by order of the circuit court, no person shall carry or permit another person to carry any weapon to a family court proceeding or upon any premises of family court. These premises shall include, but are not limited to courtrooms, offices, and associated public areas such as conference rooms, waiting rooms, hallways, and parking areas.

[Amended by order adopted November 27, 2001, effective January 1, 2002.]


Records: transcripts; fees; costs; forms
  1. Records filed with the circuit clerk. — All case files, and evidence, shall be filed with and stored by the circuit clerk.
  2. Recordings of proceedings. — Proceedings in family court shall be recorded electronically on tapes or other electronic recording media. Electronic records shall be indexed by the secretary-clerk of the family court, and shall be securely stored by the family court unless stored by the circuit clerk pursuant to the request of a family court judge. A party may obtain a copy of a recording of the proceedings in the party's case by filing with the circuit clerk a written request identifying the style of the action and the date of the hearing, and paying the required cost. The family court shall provide the copy within ten days. The family court may refuse to provide a copy of any part of a recording which includes the testimony of a child. No person except a circuit clerk, a family court judge, a circuit judge, or a member of their staffs shall have access to an original recording.
  3. Transcripts. — A party may have a transcript of a hearing prepared by an independent court reporter or transcription service. The family court may refuse to permit the transcription of any testimony by a child. The costs of such transcriptions shall be paid by the party for whom the transcript is prepared. The transcriber shall verify the transcript as a true and accurate record, and shall state whether the transcript includes all or part of the proceeding. The party for whom the transcript is prepared shall give notice of the transcript's preparation to all other parties, and may file a copy of the transcript with the circuit clerk. When the parties are unable to agree as to the accuracy of a transcript, the court may resolve the matter.
  4. Fees and costs. — All fees and costs shall be paid to and collected by the circuit clerk.
  5. Taxation of costs, fees, and attorney fees. — Costs and fees, including attorney fees, may be taxed against a party who is financially able to pay.
  6. Forms. — All forms approved or required by the supreme court of appeals shall be available in every circuit clerk's office. The circuit clerk may charge a duplication fee for such forms, which fee shall not exceed ten cents ($.10) per page or ten dollars ($10.00) total. Circuit clerks, and their staffs, and the staffs of family courts shall not be required or permitted to provide legal advice regarding such forms, or any other matter.
  7. Local rules. — Rule 1.03. of the Trial Court Rules shall apply to Family Court and govern the procedure for enacting local rules and procedures.

[Amended by order adopted November 27, 2001, effective January 1, 2002; and by order entered and effective December 1, 2005; and by order adopted May 22, 2007, effective July 1, 2007.]


Court files; confidentiality; access; proceedings.
  1. General provisions. — All orders are public records. All pleadings, recordings, exhibits, transcripts, or other documents contained in a court file are confidential, and shall not be available for public inspection; but unless the file is sealed pursuant to this rule or access is otherwise prohibited by order, any document in the file shall be available for inspection and copying by the parties, attorneys of record, guardians ad litem, designees authorized by a party in writing, and any person with standing to modify or enforce a support order. A family court judge or circuit judge may open and inspect the entire contents of the court file in any case pending before the judge's court. When sensitive information has been disclosed in a hearing, pleading, or document filing, the court may order such information sealed in the court file. Sealed court files shall be opened only by order.
  2. Family court proceedings are not open to the public.
  3. Orders permitting examination or copying of file contents. — Upon written motion, for good cause shown, the court may enter an order permitting a person who is not permitted access to a court file under section (a) of this rule to examine and/or copy documents in a file. Such orders shall set forth specific findings which demonstrate why the interests of justice necessitate the examination and/or copying, and shall specify the particular documents to be examined and/or copied and the arrangements under which such examination and/or copying shall take place.
  4. Obtaining confidential records. — Unless the person who is the subject of confidential records waives confidentiality in writing, such records may not be obtained by subpoena; but only by court order and upon full compliance with statutory and case law requirements. Such records include, but are not limited to: confidential medical and educational records; and confidential records of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; the Office of Social Services; the Office of Economic Services; the child support enforcement agency; West Virginia juvenile court proceedings; mental health treatment and counseling; substance abuse treatment; and domestic violence shelters.

[Amended by order adopted November 27, 2001, effective January 1, 2002; and by order entered and effective December 1, 2005.]


Exhibits

By order, the court may make special provisions for the secure custody and disposition of any exhibit. Such orders shall provide specific instructions for custody and disposition.


Unofficial recording of proceedings

Unless prior permission is granted by the family court, no person shall be permitted to make photographs, video recordings, sound recordings, or any other form of recording of proceedings, or any sound, video, or other form of transmission or broadcast of proceedings; and unless prior permission is granted by the court, such activities are not permitted in areas immediately adjacent to the courtroom. With prior approval of the court, photographs, video recordings, sound recordings, other forms of recordings, and sound, video, or other forms of transmissions or broadcasts may be made of ceremonial proceedings in the courtroom.

[Amended by order adopted November 27, 2001, effective January 1, 2002; and by order entered and effective December 1, 2005.]