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West Virginia Divorce Information

The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of divorce in the State of West Virginia.

You can get more specific information regarding West Virginia divorce laws using the links provided to West Virginia divorce laws or at your local library.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Before taking any action you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the laws in the state in which you will be seeking a divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

West Virginia Divorce Resources

Residency Requirements One of the spouses must have been a resident of West Virginia for at least 1 year immediately prior to filing. However, if the marriage was performed in West Virginia and 1 spouse is a resident when filing, there is no durational time limit.
Where to File The divorce should be filed for in the county:
in which the spouses last lived together;
where the defendant lives if a resident;
where the plaintiff lives, if the defendant is a non-resident
Grounds for Divorce
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for 6 months
  • Alcoholism and/or drug addiction
  • Confinement for incurable insanity for 3 years
  • Physical abuse or reasonable apprehension of physical abuse of a spouse or of a child
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment, including false accusations of adultery or homosexuality
  • Willful neglect of a spouse or a child
  • Habitual intemperance (drunkenness).
  • Irreconcilable differences have arisen between the spouses
  • Living separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for 1 year
Voluntary or recommended Counseling If the divorce involves a minor child, the court will order the parents to attend a parent education class to educate parents about the effects of divorce and custody disputes on children and teach parents methods to help children minimize their trauma
Property Distribution West Virginia is an "equitable distribution" state. Each spouse may retain his or her separate property:
  • Acquired prior to the marriage
  • Acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage
  • Any increase in value of the separate property
  • Any property acquired in exchange for any separate property
Marital property, consisting of all other property acquired during the marriage, is to be divided equally and without regard to any marital misconduct. However, this equal division may be altered based on consideration of the following factors:
  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, maintenance, or increase in value of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker and in childcare
  • The value of each spouse's separate property
  • The amount and sources of income of the spouses
  • The conduct of the spouses during the marriage only as it relates to the disposition of their property
  • The value of the labor performed in a family business, in the actual maintenance or improvement of tangible or intangible marital property
  • The contribution of 1 spouse towards the education or training of the other that has increased the income-earning ability of the other spouse
  • The foregoing by either spouse of employment or other income-earning activity through an understanding of the spouses or at the insistence of the other spouse
  • Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses
The court may, if necessary, award a spouse's separate property to the other spouse.
Child Custody Either parent may be awarded custody. There is a presumption in favor of the parent who has been the primary caretaker of the child. The factors for consideration are:
  • The stability of the child
  • Any parenting plans or other written agreement regarding child custody
  • The continuity of existing parent-child relationships
  • Meaningful contact between the child and both parents
  • Maintaining care by parents who love the child, know how to provide for the child's needs, and place a high priority on doing so
  • Security from exposure to physical or emotional harm
  • Predictable decision-making and avoidance of prolonged uncertainty regarding the child's care and control
  • Fairness between the parents
In addition, West Virginia provides specific guidelines for preparing Parenting Plans in the statute.
Child Support Either parent may be required to provide periodic child support payments, including health insurance coverage. These guidelines do not take into account the economic impact of the following factors that may be possible reasons for deviation:
  • Special needs of the child or parent, including but not limited to, the special needs of a minor or adult child who is physically or mentally disabled
  • Educational expenses for the child or the parent
  • Families with more than 6 children
  • Long-distance visitation costs
  • If the child resides with another person
  • Needs of another child or children to whom the parent owes a duty of support
  • The extent to which the parent's income depends on nonrecurring or nonguaranteed income
  • Whether the total of spousal support, child support, and childcare costs subtracted from a parent's income reduces that income to less than the federal poverty level
Spousal Support An obligation that compels a person to pay spousal support may arise from the terms of a court order, an antenuptial agreement or a separation agreement. In an order or agreement, a provision that has the support of a spouse or former spouse as its sole purpose is to be regarded as an allowance for spousal support whether expressly designated as such or not, unless the provisions of this chapter specifically require the particular type of allowance to be treated as child support or a division of marital property. Spousal support may be paid as a lump sum or as periodic installments without affecting its character as spousal support.

Spousal support is divided into four classes which are:
  • Permanent spousal support
  • Temporary spousal support, otherwise known as spousal support pendente lite;
  • Rehabilitative spousal support;
  • Spousal support in gross.
Marital misconduct of the spouses will be considered and compared. Alimony will not be awarded to any spouse who was adulterous, has been convicted of a felony during the marriage or deserted or abandoned his or her spouse for 6 months. The court may require health and/or hospitalization insurance coverage as alimony.

Upon ordering a divorce or granting a decree of separate maintenance, the court may require either party to pay spousal support in the form of periodic installments, or a lump sum, or both, for the maintenance of the other party. Payments of spousal support are to be ordinarily made from a party's income, but when the income is not sufficient to adequately provide for those payments, the court may, upon specific findings set forth in the order, order the party required to make those payments to make them from the corpus of his or her separate estate. An award of spousal support shall not be disproportionate to a party's ability to pay as disclosed by the evidence before the court.

At any time after the entry of an order pursuant to the provisions of this article, the court may, upon motion of either party, revise or alter the order concerning the maintenance of the parties, or either of them, and make a new order concerning the same, issuing it forthwith, as the altered circumstances or needs of the parties may render necessary to meet the ends of justice.

In determining whether spousal support is to be awarded, or in determining the amount of spousal support, if any, to be awarded, the court shall consider and compare the fault or misconduct of either or both of the parties and the effect of the fault or misconduct as a contributing factor to the deterioration of the marital relationship.

The court may award rehabilitative spousal support for a limited period of time to allow the recipient spouse, through reasonable efforts, to become gainfully employed. When awarding rehabilitative spousal support, the court shall make specific findings of fact to explain the basis for the award, giving due consideration to the factors set forth in section 8-103 of this article. An award of rehabilitative spousal support is appropriate when the dependent spouse evidences a potential for self-support that could be developed through rehabilitation, training or academic study.

The court may modify an award of rehabilitative spousal support if a substantial change in the circumstances under which rehabilitative spousal support was granted warrants terminating, extending or modifying the award or replacing it with an award of permanent spousal support. In determining whether a substantial change of circumstances exists which would warrant a modification of a rehabilitative spousal support award, the court may consider a reassessment of the dependent spouse's potential work skills and the availability of a relevant job market, the dependent spouse's age, health and skills, the dependent spouse's ability or inability to meet the terms of the rehabilitative plan and other relevant factors

West Virginia Divorce Attorneys by County

West Virginia Divorce Mediators by County

This information has been compiled directly from the most recently available statutes online for each state. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is correct and complete. Be aware that laws frequently change. Do not take any action based on this information without first consulting an attorney to be certain that the laws pertaining to your particular situation have not changed.

The language used in most cases on this page is legal terminology taken directly from the statutes and laws of each state. The terminology is not always easy to understand. If you are not sure of something you should consult an attorney so that you can fully understand the meaning of the laws.

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Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within this web site without first consulting an attorney or an appropriate professional depending upon the content of the information.