West Virginia Divorce & Separation
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UPDATED: Mar 4, 2020
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Getting a separation or divorce is of course common in every state, but you may not realize that every state has its own unique laws and rules that govern, and West Virginia is no exception. What are the requirements for getting a divorce in West Virginia? Is mediation a requirement before you can get a West Virginia divorce? What is the law on West Virginia annulments? Find the answers to your West Virginia divorce questions here.
West Virginia Legal Separation:
The courts will recognize and consider separation agreements in adjudicating divorce suits, but there is no legal separation per se in West Virginia, whether as a precursor to divorce or as a separate entity. For more information about the differences between divorce, separation, and annulment, see Ending a Marriage or Taking a Break
Grounds for Divorce/Fault – No Fault:
West Virginia has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. The sphere of fault-based reasons includes: adultery, sodomy committed outside the marriage, a felony conviction, sentence to confinement for more than 1 year, and failure of a return to cohabitation after that year. Cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, willful desertion or abandonment are also grounds for fault-based divorce – but only when at least one year has passed from the date of the act itself.
Divorce will also be granted when the parties have lived separate and apart for one year. Where separation agreements exist and no minor children are party to the divorce, a divorce may be granted upon only six months of living separate and apart.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
The Circuit Court has jurisdiction for lawsuits for annulment and for divorces, along with claims for separate maintenance. Judges automatically hear the suits as “equitable claims.” See Dividing Up Property in a Divorce for more information on what this means. Further, suits for divorce or annulment are not valid unless one of the parties has been a resident for at least six months before the suit is filed.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
When the grounds for divorce are willful desertion or abandonment, there is no requirement to allege or prove an offer of reconciliation. When there are no specific alleged grounds (i.e. uncontested, frequently ‘no-fault’ divorce), then a divorce is much more likely to proceed through the system quickly and smoothly. If both parties can work together without the court’s help on most of their issues, especially those concerning property and children, then they will save on a lot of heartache and a lot of excess legal fees. However, these agreements are not necessarily binding on the court, and there are no special or expedited divorce proceedings for these couples.
West Virginia Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
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Divorce Mediation in West Virginia:
The court will refer the parties to a dispute resolution session at no cost to them and only as circumstances allow. A history of abuse in the family, if one exists, will factor into the determination of whether mediation would be appropriate. Any issues left unresolved between the parties after the mediation session (or after several mediation sessions, if the parties agree to more) will be resolved by the court. The fee for the mediator in these sessions is paid by the government.
West Virginia Annulment:
An annulment is a court declaration that your marriage is legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with, for reasons including: fraud, duress, incurable impotency at the time of the marriage, undisclosed prior felony conviction, undisclosed extramarital pregnancy or undisclosed extramarital child born within 10 months of the marriage, and either party’s having been a prostitute before marriage (also undisclosed at the time of the marriage contract).
West Virginia Online Divorce Services:
West Virginia Divorce Laws: Click below to find the West Virginia Divorce laws you’re looking for: