A brief guide to divorce in West Virginia
Married couples considering temporary or permanent separation in West Virginia should be aware of the following things:
West Virginia state divorce laws
At least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for one year before a petition for divorce in West Virginia can be filed. This residency requirement does not apply to people who were married in the state.
Grounds for divorce
Aside from no-fault cases of divorce in West Virginia, the following are grounds for complaint for an at-fault divorce:
• A spouse has reasonable fears for their physical safety
• Being falsely accused of infidelity or homosexuality
• Mentally or physically harmful treatment
• Being convicted of a felony
• Alcohol or drug addiction
• Abuse of either the spouse or a child
• Insanity with no hope of a cure
Some couples may not wish to divorce in West Virginia for religious reasons or be uncertain if they wish to separate permanently. In cases, a legally binding legal separation will resolve the same issues that come into dispute during a divorce, such as child custody and alimony. These agreements can serve as a framework for any divorce procedures that are undertaken if the couple does not reconcile.
Types of divorce
If both spouses agree to separate and can reach a settlement on how to divide property, support of the children and other related issues, they will have their case resolved as an uncontested divorce. In cases where a spouse does not consent to divorce or both parties cannot come to terms regarding the specifics of their separation, a judge will resolve the issues around this contested divorce.
No fault divorce
Couples who have been separated for at least a year can apply for no fault divorce in West Virginia. It is also possible to have this kind of separation approved on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. No proof of wrongdoing by either spouse is required for this kind of divorce to be approved.
Steps in the divorce process
When a spouse files a complaint with the local circuit court asking for divorce, the other spouse will be legally served with the papers and have a period to respond or contest the separation. If no agreement is reached, a pretrial timeline and process will be established in which court-supervised meetings will attempt to resolve differences over the divorce between the two couples. If no satisfactory agreement can be reached, a judge will issue legally binding rulings concerning the case.
Judges are free to take whatever factors they feel are relevant when awarding temporary or permanent alimony when ruling on cases of divorce in West Virginia, including the length of the marriage and how long both spouses actually lived together.
Judges will examine the fiscal records and capabilities of both parents when determining child support payments, if any.
Fathers’ and mothers’ rights
Gender is not taken into account when awarding child custody in West Virginia. Both parents’ fitness to take custody of the child and willingness to work together for the child’s benefit will be taken into consideration.