Dear Editor,

Marketers of products sometimes use a gimmick that involves taking an existing product, tweaking it a little, and advertising it with a new name or packaging. Often it's called "new and improved."

West Virginia citizens are receiving the same treatment this session from the West Virginia Legislature. Last November, voters gave the Legislature permission to create a family court by passing an amendment to the Constitution.

Instead of creating what voters want - a family court that addresses the needs of families - the proposed Senate bill simply takes the old family law master system and gives it a new name. Families will continue to languish in uncertainty for years as their cases are bounced from family court, to circuit court and back again. Decisions made by family court judges deserve the same Supreme Court review as those of circuit judges. Children deserve the same level of respect as litigants in civil lawsuits.

Some circuit judges whine that parties without attorneys won't be able to handle a Supreme Court appeal. Self-represented parties have to do their own Supreme Court appeals now - it just takes longer to get there. Under the current system, families have to make their way through three levels of the court system. Many give up before they get to the Supreme Court. A direct appeal to the Supreme Court means cases are resolved faster and with fewer hearings. It's faster and cheaper in the long run.

West Virginia voters are going to catch on, just as consumers don't fall for "new and improved" packaging. Next time our Legislature asks us to let them change our Constitution; perhaps we need to just say "No." Meanwhile, tell your legislators to kill this bill and take the time to give West Virginia families the family court system they deserve.

Ginger Thompson McDaniel
West Virginia Alliance for Two Parents
109 North Arthur Drive
Charleston WV 25312
Phone 304.744.6534
Fax. 304.744.8657
Email WVAFTP@aol.com