On a psychological and practical level, divorce is rarely straightforward, especially if you have kids at home. However, you can save yourself the time and money of a divorce trial when you and your husband can still talk, compromise, and compromise on the matters relating to the end of your marriage. How to divorce in West Virginia is described in this article.
Requirements for Divorce in West Virginia
Before submitting a divorce petition to state courts, you should satisfy its residency requirements.
- If you were married in West Virginia, you are eligible for a divorce so long as at least one of you is still a state resident when the divorce paperwork is submitted. It makes no difference how long either spouse has called the state home.
- If you weren’t married in West Virginia, but one partner is a resident there at the time of the filing, and it has resided there consistently for at least a year prior to filing, you are eligible for a divorce.
- One of the partners must live in West Virginia if the divorce in West Virginia is being granted due to adultery. The petitioners (the partner who filed for divorce) must have lived in West Virginia for at least a year prior to filing if the respondent (the partner who did not file for divorce) is not in the state and cannot be directly served there.
Grounds for Divorce in West Virginia
Both “fault-based” and “no-fault” divorces are legal in West Virginia. In a no-fault divorce, neither partner is required to show that the other’s bad behavior was the reason for the split. In a fault-based divorce, one or both partners must prove that the other’s acts contributed to the breakdown of the marriage (were the “grounds for” the divorce).
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in West Virginia
Due to the lack of contention over or need to establish blame, fault-free divorces in West Virginia are more quickly resolved than fault-based ones. In West Virginia, there are two grounds for divorce that are fault-free:
- Irreconcilable disagreements.
- Prolonged separation without cohabitation for a year or longer (at least one of the spouses must have voluntarily separated from the other).
“Irreconcilable disagreement” typically refers to a situation in which the couple’s communication has broken down to the point that there is no chance of reconciliation. In West Virginia, both couples must concur that their disagreements are irreconcilable. You will need to select (and establish) a different foundation for divorce if both partners cannot concur on this one.
In order to prove that you have been separated from your partner for the appropriate amount of time if you decide to divorce on the basis of separation, you must present proof from a third party, such as a testimony or a sworn written statement from a friend.
Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in West Virginia
In a fault-based divorce, one or both couples must provide the judge with proof that the other couple’s actions contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. The aforementioned fault-based grounds for divorce exist in West Virginia:
- abusive or inhumane behavior
- a conviction for a crime
- persistent and untreatable madness
- habitual intoxication or drug abuse
- a minimum of six months of abandonment
- child abuse or neglect
Most divorcing spouses prefer to file no-fault divorces because they are quicker and less contentious than fault-based divorces.
Where to File Your Divorce Case
It’s crucial to file for divorce in the appropriate court because doing so could result in delays or the dismissal of your divorce. Divorce cases are determined by specialized family courts in West Virginia. You must submit a divorce petition to the court clerk. (Obviously, it depends on how the court is set up, you may file your documents with the circuit court clerk, although the family court will resolve your divorce.)
The petitioner may file in the county in which the couple last cohabited or in the county where the respondent resides if the respondent resides in West Virginia.
The petitioner may apply in the county where the spouses last cohabited or in their own county if the respondent doesn’t reside in West Virginia.
How to File for Divorce in West Virginia
Uncontested and disputed divorces are the two main categories. When the couples reach an agreement on all divorce-related issues, including division of assets, child custody, and alimony, the divorce is deemed to be uncontested (spousal support). Contrarily, in a contested divorce, the parties must seek the court to resolve the disagreements because they disagree at least one point.
Due to the lack of courtroom conflict, uncontested divorces are typically resolved more quickly and for less money than contested divorces. The judge must only consider, authorize, and execute a divorce decision after reviewing and approving the marriage settlement agreement between the parties.
Divorce Filing Fees in West Virginia
You must pay court filing fees in addition to submitting the required documentation. In West Virginia, divorce filing costs are regulated by law. The divorce filing fee is $135 as of 2022.
By submitting a Financial Affidavit and Application: Eligibility for Waiver of Fees, Costs, or Security in a Civil or Domestic Case, you can ask for a waiver if you are unable to pay the filing fees. You won’t be required to pay any court costs or fees if the court approves your petition.
Divorce Mediation in West Virginia
Choose divorce mediation if you and your partner disagree on the problems in your divorce but believe you might be able to collaborate in order to resolve them. You and your partner will engage with a “mediator,” a third person who is impartial and who will assist you in resolving your differences during divorce mediation.
Mediation in divorce cases is frequently significantly less expensive and heated than going to court. Even better, you might well be able to bridge the gap online, allowing you to take part from any location with an internet connection. If your mediation goes well, you could be able to get a divorce without a fight.
Serving Your Spouse in West Virginia
Following the filing of the documentation, you will need to “serve” (deliver) copies of the documents to your partner in order to notify them of the divorce. You must have somebody who is at least 18 years old and who isn’t even a defendant in the case serve your spouse on your behalf; you cannot do this yourself.
Using a sheriff or experienced process server, you can physically serve your spouse with the documents. The simplest method to do this is to request that your husband be served by the sheriff for an additional $25 from the clerk when you file your divorce. Your spouse can also be served by a friend or acquaintance. Anyone who delivers your partner must fill up an affidavit stating the fact that they did so, and this affidavit needs to be submitted to the court.
For an extra $20, you can ask the clerk to mail the documentation to you using certified mail. Requesting permission from the court to serve your spouse by publication is an option if you do not even understand where your partner is or if your partner is out of state and won’t sign a return receipt for service (by putting a notice in a court-approved newspaper or other publication).
Assets and debts are divided between you and your partner during a divorce. Each party will often retain his or her own distinct property, which includes:
- Either brought into the marriage or given in return for such goods.
- At any time through a gift or inheritance.
- Identified as distinct in a legal contract.
- Obtained after the parties’ separation.
- That is a rise in the value of the separate property that is not the result of the other party’s efforts.
Unless the judge (regardless of blame) decides an unequal distribution is appropriate after taking into account the following conditions, all other assets are marital property and must be divided equally.
- Each party’s contribution to the purchase, retention, maintenance, or rise in the value of marital property through monetary gifts, domestic labor, child care services, or work done in a corporate entity in which one or both parties have an interest, in the actual upkeep or improved performance of measurable marital assets, or in the planning or investment of marital assets,
- How much each party worked during the marriage in a way that limited or diminished their capacity to generate money or improved the other party’s ability to earn money, included.
- Any activities taken by a party that diminishes the worth of the marital assets.
Before beginning the divorce in West Virginia, make sure you comprehend many of the fundamental guidelines, methods, regulations, and standards.
A divorce may be granted after one year of uninterrupted, separate living arrangements between the parties without any cohabitation.
In the event of a divorce, the equitable distribution principle will be used by the court to determine how to divide marital assets. Although the court must begin by assuming that all of the marital property will be divided equally between the couples, equitable distribution does not have to be equal.
In a West Virginia court, filing the necessary paperwork for a straightforward divorce costs $135.00. However, the overall costs of a divorce can be significantly higher, particularly in contested divorces where mediation and attorney fees can cost upwards of $20,000 or more.