Divorce Laws in West Virginia
Residency Requirements for Divorce in West Virginia
As a requirement in filing for divorce in West Virginia, either of the spouses must be a resident of the State for at least 100 consecutive days prior to the filing of the petition. However, the length or duration of residency doesn’t matter if the marriage was performed in West Virginia and one of the spouses live in the State at the time of filing.
West Virginia Grounds For Divorce
The West Virginia circuit courts and family courts recognize both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. These grounds include:
- Irreconcilable differences, where both parties cannot get along, making the marital union inharmonious and unendurable.
- Voluntary separation for one consecutive year, where the parties have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation.
- Cruel or inhuman treatment by either party against the other, including physical harm, false accusation of adultery or homosexuality, or treatment that threatens the safety and well-being of the other spouse, or causes severe mental, physical, or emotional stress which renders the marriage unendurable.
- Conviction of a felony by either party
- Permanent and incurable insanity, as proven by medical records and professional testimony, where the party has been confined in a mental facility for three consecutive years or more prior to the filing of the divorce petition.
- Habitual drunkenness of either party
- Addiction to narcotics or dangerous drugs
- Willful abandonment or desertion for no less than six months
- Child abuse and/or neglect
Child Custody Law in West Virginia
The West Virginia courts look into many relevant factors in hearing child custody cases. As in other States, West Virginia ultimately looks into the child’s best interest as the court’s primary concern.
Divorcing parents may be granted either Sole Custody (sole physical custody or sole legal custody) or Joint Custody (joint physical custody or joint legal custody), depending on the circumstances and pieces of evidence presented in court.
Usually, the court takes side on the parent who has previously been the usual caretaker of the child. That parent will almost likely be awarded child custody unless the court sees relevant factors to decide otherwise.
In a divorce action where a minor child is involved, the court may require the parents to attend Parent Education Classes. The cost of which will be shouldered by the attending parents.
Guidelines for West Virginia Child Support
West Virginia child support standards consider the combined monthly gross income of both parents and the cost of raising the child including but not limited to cost of education, food, clothing, medicine, plus other expenses such as medical and/or dental insurance. The standard guidelines aim to make sure that the child will enjoy the same standard of living as if the divorce did not happen.
Monthly support is determined with the application of these guidelines using the Income Shares Model, keeping in consideration the reasonable expenses in rearing the child and the income and earning capacity of each parent. The court may modify the amount of support if one party so requests it, based on relevant grounds.
Where to file for a divorce?
The filing of the West Virginia divorce complaint must be in the county of residence of either the petitioner or the respondent or in the county where both of them lived together immediately preceding the divorce action.
For a fast and inexpensive divorce process, you can file West Virginia online divorce forms.
Refer to the “Divorce Requirements for West Virginia Residents” above and also review the best online divorce sites.
Divorce mediation is available in West Virginia, where former spouses have the option to resolve their disputes between themselves, with the help of a third-party mediator. It may not be advisable for situations where one party is aggrieved due to domestic violence, adultery or child abuse which seeks punishment for the other party.
Before or after filing the West Virginia divorce papers, parties may decide if mediation is what they need and if they can arrive at a win-win resolution by themselves in aspects pertaining to division of property and debts, child custody and support, among other concerns.
Need information for a different state?
You may also visit the West Virginia Courts