Before filing for a divorce in West Virginia, a couple must fulfill the necessary residency requirements, which means that at least one of the involved spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least a year before the divorce is filed.
Fill Out Your Forms
If a couple fulfills the residency requirements, then one of the spouses must file a Petition for Divorce (form number SCA-FC-101), in the circuit court of either their or their spouse's county of residence. This petition gives an outline of the parties involved, their marriage status, their property, their children and most importantly how the petitioning spouse (now called the Petitioner) wishes that the marital property be divided. Once this form has been filed it is the Petitioner's responsibility to serve the petition and other necessary papers (like a summons to court) on his or her spouse.
Service can happen either by sheriff, mail, private process service or in special cases, by publication.
- Service through the Sheriff's department: the Respondent (the Petitioner's spouse) has 20 days from the day he or she is served to then serve the Petitioner with an answer.
- Service through a private process server: the respondent still has 20 days to file answer, however the person filing for service must file an Affidavit of service certifying that the papers were delivered.
- Service by certified mail: this service must be organized by the clerk's office and then mailed to the Respondent with a return recipient request. This recipient request will become an important record in the divorce action because it explains that the Respondent was served with the divorce papers.
- Service by publication: this is a last resort and should only be used when the Respondent cannot be found, or the respondent lives out of state and refuses to accept service by mail. Service by publication can only occur if the Petitioner has made a very significant effort to find and serve the Respondent; if the search is fruitless, the Petitioner then must file an Affidavit of Non-residency. Once this affidavit is filed, the deputy clerk fills out an Order for Publication which allows the Petitioner to publish service and subsequently gives the Respondent 30 days to respond.
Once service has been completed, the next steps greatly depend upon how the Respondent feels
about the demands and claims brought forth by the Petitioner. If the Respondent accepts the service of divorce, without contest, the divorce can be simplified. If he or she does not, then the case will go to a final hearing where a judge will make decisions about the disputed terms of the divorce.
If irreconcilable differences are listed as the grounds for divorce, then after the Respondent files the Answer, stating that there are in fact irreconcilable differences, both the Petitioner and Respondent must attend a final hearing where they are granted a divorce.
If a couple decides to receive their no fault divorce on the grounds of a one-year voluntary or involuntary separation, then after the Respondent files an answer the couple goes to a final hearing where a witness explains that the couple has been separated for a year.
Regardless of the grounds for divorce, whether irreconcilable differences or separation, the final document issued is the Decree of Divorce, which states the terms of the divorce
A Note about Simplified Divorce Procedures
If the Petitioning spouse files under the no fault ground of irreconcilable differences, then the respondent may file an Answer which admits to the fact that there are irreconcilable differences and that he or she agrees with the terms requested by the Petitioner. When this non-contesting answer is filed, the divorce will be granted. The forms, including the financial disclosure forms, necessary for this quick divorce are on hand at the circuit clerk's office and they are also free of charge.
A Note about Forms
If the parties have reached an agreement and they do not desire to proceed with a lengthy trial they can use RocketLawyer's easy interview process to complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement. The Divorce Settlement Agreement facilitates the division of property, assets, debts and liabilities as well as settles matters of child support, custody and visitation.
Unfortunately there are no forms available online through the West Virginia court system. You should contact the office of the circuit court in whichever county you wish to file for divorce, or the county where your divorce was filed, and receive the necessary forms there. If you need more help with your divorce, you can use RocketLawyer.com to Find a Lawyerin your area.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.