Divorce is never easy, as anyone who has been divorced can attest to. The emotional and financial challenges can be substantial during divorce. Now that you find yourself considering divorce, you probably want to find the most straightforward way to begin the process. Fortunately, West Virginia makes getting a divorce relatively simple, especially if you are seeking an uncontested divorce – one where you and your spouse agree on issues like property division and child custody (if you have children). You may even qualify to complete your divorce without a divorce lawyer. In this instance, you simply need to fill out the appropriate West Virginia divorce papers and file them with the county court.
West Virginia’s divorce papers are available online at CompleteCase.com. The form preparation service makes the process even simpler by giving you access to the specific forms needed for your circumstances and ensures that they’re filled out correctly.
If you and your spouse are having difficulty reaching agreement on divorce related issues, you may find divorce mediation helpful. Mediation in West Virginia allows you to meet with a professional mediator, someone who is trained to help divorcing couples reach agreements on hard issues. If your situation is more challenging you may want to seek the services of a divorce attorney.
We’ve compiled the following information to help you understand the basics of divorce in West Virginia and how you can begin to move forward with your divorce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in West Virginia in 2011 was 5.2 for every 1,000 residents. This places West Virginia's divorce rate fairly high compared to the other states where only a few other have a higher rate.
If you and your spouse were married in West Virginia, you can get divorced in the state as long as you or your spouse are still a resident. If you were not married in the state, either you or your spouse will need to have been living in the state for at least one year before you can file. West Virginia allows both no-fault and fault-based divorces. In a no-fault divorce, you only need to cite that the marriage is broken and that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. In a fault-based divorce, you have to prove grounds for the divorce that are accepted by the state, such as adultery or extreme cruelty.
The divorce papers you’ll need to complete and file will be based on your individual circumstances, such as if you and your spouse have minor children or not. Your forms may also vary depending on the county where you are filing. It is recommended that you contact the county court where you plan to file to verify that you are completing all required divorce forms before you attempt to file.
The West Virginia Judiciary website offers a variety of divorce forms and packets on its website. Here you will find forms like the “Petition for Divorce” and the “Summons”. If you find the number of forms available overwhelming, understand that this is normal. There are a number of different possible forms, which is why many people in West Virginia decide to get their divorce papers completed online by CompleteCase.com. With our service you’ll get the assistance needed to choose and complete the correct forms accurately. This can help to prevent unnecessary delays or added costs to your divorce derived from submitting incorrect or inaccurate divorce forms.
When you are filling out your divorce documents, avoid signing any statements or affidavits. The court will only accept divorce forms that have been signed and notarized. Many county courts offer a notary service, but not all do. You will want to verify that your court has a notary public before you attempt to file.
When you have completed the required divorce papers for West Virginia you will need to print at least three of each document. You will file one set of documents with the court, keep one for your records and serve one to your spouse. When you are sure that you have everything ready, you may want to contact the county clerk and make certain that you are bringing everything that you will need, including a form of payment that the court accepts for the state filing fee. You may be able to have your filing fee waived if you fill out a waiver and the court accepts it. When your fee is considered paid, the clerk will file will stamp the documents with the date and the case number.
To “serve” divorce paperwork simply means to give them to your spouse so he or she is made aware of the divorce proceedings. West Virginia allows you to serve your spouse in several ways.
You can serve your spouse by paying a sheriff's office to deliver the papers. The sheriff will deliver the documents and then give you a form that verifies that they were served. You will file this form with the county clerk to complete the filing process. You can also serve your spouse using a private process server. Generally private process servers are a little more expensive than the sheriff, but they will often make several attempts to serve your spouse, where the sheriff may only make a single attempt. You will also need to file proof of service if you use a private process server.
You can also ask the clerk about serving your spouse using certified mail. If you use this option the clerk will mail copies of the divorce documents to your spouse's address and require a return receipt to verify that the papers were delivered.
If you cannot find your spouse you may be able to publish the divorce in the local newspaper. You will need to ask the court about this option. Service by publication is a last resort, and is also the most expensive option available.
West Virginia will wait at least 20 days before hearing your case. If you and your spouse agree on all terms, you should be able to finalize the divorce as soon as the court verifies this. If you need to argue your case to the court, it may take much longer to finalize.