Hammack v. Wise, No. 13435

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtCAPLAN
Citation211 S.E.2d 118,158 W.Va. 343
PartiesVelma HAMMACK v. James Edward WISE.
Docket NumberNo. 13435
Decision Date21 January 1975

Page 118

211 S.E.2d 118
158 W.Va. 343
Velma HAMMACK
v.
James Edward WISE.
No. 13435.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Jan. 21, 1975.

Page 119

Syllabus by the Court

1. The father of an illegitimate child must receive the same treatment and consideration as that received by any parent with respect to the termination of his parental rights.

2. 'A parent has the natural right to the custody of his or her infant child and, unless the parent is an unfit person because of misconduct, neglect, immorality, abandonment, or other dereliction of duty, or has waived such right, or by agreement or otherwise has permanently transferred, relinquished or surrendered such custody, the right of the parent to the custody of his or her infant child will be recognized and enforced by the courts.' Syllabus, State ex rel. Kiger v. Hancock, 153 W.Va. 404 (168 S.E.2d 798) (1969).

3. While courts always look to the best interests of the child in controversies concerning his or her custody, such custody should not be denied to a parent merely because some other person might possibly furnish the child a better home or better care.

4. Although the exercise of discretion by a trial court in awarding custody of a child will not ordinarily be disturbed, when it [158 W.Va. 344] clearly appears that such discretion has been abused, the decision awarding custody will be reversed.

Donald E. Price, Morgantown, for plaintiff in error.

Wilson, Frame & Rowe, Clark B. Frame, Morgantown, for defendant in error.

CAPLAN, Justice:

This is an appeal from a final order of the Circuit Court of Monongalia County in a habeas corpus proceeding instituted in that court by Velma Hammack wherein Mrs. Hammack sought to obtain the custody of the illegitimate infant son of her deceased daughter. The putative father of said son filed a return and an answer to the petition and issue was joined. After a hearing on said pleadings, at which evidence was adduced on behalf of each party, the court on May 14, 1973 entered judgment awarding custody of the child to the petitioner, Velma Hammack. It is from that judgment that the appellant, James Edward Wise, prosecutes this appeal.

The basic question presented for resolution on this appeal is: as between the maternal grandmother, whose daughter died in childbirth, and the putative father of the illegitimate child, who has the legal right to said child's custody?

Page 120

The child, James Edward Wise, II, the subject of the habeas corpus proceeding below, was born on January 20, 1973 to James Edward and Victoria Catherine Wise at Monongalia General Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. This is reflected by the certificate of the hospital which is included in the record as respondent's Exhibit D. The evidence of record reveals that Victoria [158 W.Va. 345] Catherine Wise died of complications arising from the birth of the subject infant on January 21, 1973. The name on her death certificate was Victoria Catherine Wise.

Upon release from the hospital the infant child was taken by his father, James Edward Wise, and his maternal grandmother, Velma Hammack, to the residence of Mrs. Hammack where Mr. Wise and Victoria Catherine Wise for some time had been residing. There the child remained in the care of the father and the maternal grandmother. Mr. Wise, being regularly employed and in such employment being required to travel daily to Haywood, West Virginia, a distance of about thirty-five miles, the daily routine care for the infant was left largely to Mrs. Hammack. Mr. Wise continued to reside in the home of Mrs. Hammack, together with the child, until some time after the institution of the habeas corpus proceeding.

In her petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed in the court below the petitioner, Mrs. Hammack, relates the facts concerning the birth of the child very much as hereinabove set out. She therein asserted that she had assumed the custody and care of said child; that the child is in her home; that the respondent claims to be the putative father of the illegitimate child and therefore entitled to the legal custody of said child; that she is the maternal grandmother of the child and is financially able and morally suited to have the legal custody of the child; and that her continued...

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45 practice notes
  • In re Abbigail Faye B., No. 33716.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 23, 2008
    ...merely because some other person might possibly furnish the child a better home or better care." Syllabus point 3, Hammack v. Wise, 158 W.Va. 343, 211 S.E.2d Noel M. Olivero, Sammons, Olivero & Paraschos, P.L.L.C., Huntington, WV, for the Appellants, Gala P. and Brent P. Robert E. Wilkinson......
  • Kessel v. Leavitt, No. 23557.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 22, 1998
    ...is not unfit and has not waived, abandoned, transferred, or otherwise relinquished his/her custodial rights. Citing Hammack v. Wise, 158 W.Va. 343, 211 S.E.2d 118 (1975). John further supports his position by proposing that, regardless of any decisional rights enjoyed by Anne, "[o]nce the b......
  • Fiallo v. Levi, No. 74 C 1083.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • November 28, 1975
    ...122, 210 S.E.2d 88 (1974) (court may order visitation rights for father of illegitimate despite mother's objection); Hammack v. Wise, 211 S.E.2d 118, 121 (W.Va.1975) (father awarded custody of illegitimate child); State ex rel. Lewis v. Lutheran Social Services, 59 Wis.2d 1, 207 N.W.2d 826 ......
  • Simmons v. Comer, No. 21459
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 13, 1993
    ...of the parent to the custody of his or her child will be recognized and enforced by the courts.' Syl. pt. 2, Hammack v. Wise, W.Va. , 211 S.E.2d 118 (1975); Syllabus, State ex rel. Kiger v. Hancock, 153 W.Va. 404, 168 S.E.2d 798 (1969); Syllabus, Whiteman v. Robinson, 145 W.Va. 685, 116 S.E......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • In re Abbigail Faye B., No. 33716.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 23, 2008
    ...merely because some other person might possibly furnish the child a better home or better care." Syllabus point 3, Hammack v. Wise, 158 W.Va. 343, 211 S.E.2d Noel M. Olivero, Sammons, Olivero & Paraschos, P.L.L.C., Huntington, WV, for the Appellants, Gala P. and Brent P. Robert E. Wilkinson......
  • Kessel v. Leavitt, No. 23557.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 22, 1998
    ...is not unfit and has not waived, abandoned, transferred, or otherwise relinquished his/her custodial rights. Citing Hammack v. Wise, 158 W.Va. 343, 211 S.E.2d 118 (1975). John further supports his position by proposing that, regardless of any decisional rights enjoyed by Anne, "[o]nce the b......
  • Fiallo v. Levi, No. 74 C 1083.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • November 28, 1975
    ...122, 210 S.E.2d 88 (1974) (court may order visitation rights for father of illegitimate despite mother's objection); Hammack v. Wise, 211 S.E.2d 118, 121 (W.Va.1975) (father awarded custody of illegitimate child); State ex rel. Lewis v. Lutheran Social Services, 59 Wis.2d 1, 207 N.W.2d 826 ......
  • Simmons v. Comer, No. 21459
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 13, 1993
    ...of the parent to the custody of his or her child will be recognized and enforced by the courts.' Syl. pt. 2, Hammack v. Wise, W.Va. , 211 S.E.2d 118 (1975); Syllabus, State ex rel. Kiger v. Hancock, 153 W.Va. 404, 168 S.E.2d 798 (1969); Syllabus, Whiteman v. Robinson, 145 W.Va. 685, 116 S.E......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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