The Steps to Take in Getting a Divorce in West Virginia
By Beverly Bird
Some states are more divorce-friendly than others. Beginning a divorce is usually just a matter of completing the proper paperwork and submitting it to the court, but then -- depending on where you live -- the process can get complicated. After you do this in West Virginia, the court system takes over for you. If you and your spouse can agree on issues like custody and property, you won't have to do much more than appear in court when you receive notice.
Gather the documents required to file for divorce. In West Virginia, these include your petition for divorce, a case information statement, a financial statement, and a vital statistics form. If you have children, you’ll also need a child support income withholding form and a parent education registration form. You can get these documents at the circuit clerk’s office, or download them from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals website.
Complete the forms. West Virginia is a no-fault divorce state so your only choices for grounds of divorce are irreconcilable differences or one-year separation. You must attest in your petition that you were married in West Virginia and either you, your spouse or both still live there. Alternatively, you must be a West Virginia resident for one year.
File your completed paperwork with the circuit court clerk in the county where you lived when you were married or where either of you currently live. Your case information statement will tell the clerk how you want to serve your spouse. If you elect to have the sheriff deliver it to him or send it by certified mail, the court clerk will take care of this for you when you file your documents.
Attend the parent education class if you have children. When you file your registration form along with your petition, the court will notify you of a date and time for the class.
Prepare a parenting plan after you’ve attended the education class detailing the custody and visitation arrangement you’d like the court to order. A form for this is also available from the circuit court clerk and West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals website. You and your spouse can submit one together or, if you’re not in agreement, each file one separately.
Attend your first hearing when you receive a scheduling notice from the court. Take your parenting plan with you if you have children. Alternatively, If you complete it before your first hearing, you can file it with the court ahead of time. If you and your spouse are in agreement regarding how to end your marriage, you can conceivably be divorced at this time.
Attend subsequent hearings if you don’t receive your divorce at the first one. The judge might enter a temporary order at the first hearing regarding those issues you and your spouse agree on and schedule subsequent hearings for the issues in dispute. If you can’t agree on a parenting plan, the judge will probably send you to mediation to work one out before he rules on custody. When you and your spouse have resolved all issues between you, or when the judge has ultimately ruled on those you can’t agree on, you’ll be divorced.
If you’re not comfortable filling out your divorce documents on your own, LegalZoom can prepare your paperwork for you. However, you and your spouse must be in agreement regarding all terms of your divorce. Otherwise, LegalZoom will refer you to an attorney. If you choose this option, you only have to file your paperwork with the court and appear with your signed agreement at the first hearing.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.