How Long Does a Divorce Take in West Virginia?

how long does divorce take in west virginia

On average, a divorce in West Virginia takes approximately 3 to 12 months from the initial filing to the final divorce decree. This timeframe can vary due to factors such as case complexity, cooperation between parties, and court schedules. The information regarding the duration of divorce proceedings in West Virginia provided below is based on the experience of legal professionals familiar with such cases in the state.

What Makes Getting a Divorce Take Longer?

The average time for a divorce in West Virginia is from several months to a year or more and primarily depends on the divorce type. Contested cases usually take longer since many court hearings may be needed for spouses to agree on the disputed divorce terms or for a judge to decide on the case after listening to both parties and considering the evidence provided.

In contrast, uncontested divorces can be finalized relatively quickly since the parties agree on divorce issues such as property division, custody, alimony, etc.  

In general, a marriage termination process may take longer due to the following reasons:

  • The high number of disputed issues to resolve.
  • Need to involve third-party experts – it may be necessary to turn to the help of property evaluators, mediators, child custody experts, etc.
  • The ability of partners to negotiate – one spouse may not be cooperative, delaying proceedings.
  • Involvement of minor children – spouses with kids should decide on custody and visitation, calculate support amounts, and go through family therapy, if applicable.
  • Many properties to divide – the thorough evaluation of assets is required for their fair distribution; it may lead to a prolonged divorce process.
  • Post-divorce appeals.
factors that prolong divorce process
*Severity percentages are rough estimates and can vary based on individual cases and jurisdictional factors

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in West Virginia?

Uncontested divorce in West Virginia can take, on average, from 30 to 90 days to finalize. Since parties resolve all issues amicably, there is no need for court litigation. The main factors influencing the divorce timelines will be the speed with which spouses can collect and prepare all the necessary papers and the court workload. Please note that if you want to start a divorce based on separation, you should live separately and apart from your spouse for at least one year before filing.

West Virginia divorce timeline
West Virginia uncontested divorce timeline

The more specific timeframes of uncontested divorce are provided below.

Filing the Petition (1-2 weeks)

Filing itself can be completed in one day; however, it will take from several days to a few weeks to find all the needed divorce forms and fill them out according to legal requirements.

To initiate a marriage dissolution, you must file a Petition for Divorce with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse live or where you last lived together. With the petition, you will also need to submit additional papers such as Petitioner’s Civil Case Information Statement, Financial Report, Vital Statistics Form, etc. The final list of documents to prepare will depend on the case specifics.

Serving the Petition (1-4 weeks)

After filing the paperwork, you should serve your spouse with copies of the documents. The available service methods include:

  • acceptance of service arrangement,
  • personal service by a sheriff or a private process server,
  • service by certified mail,
  • service by publication.

The process may last from a few days to a week on average, depending on whether a respondent’s location is known.

Response and Counterclaim (2-4 weeks)

Depending on the service type, a respondent has 20 or 30 days to answer a petition, either agreeing to its terms or potentially filing a counterclaim.

Discovery (2-6 weeks)

Discovery is needed for each spouse to show the other party and court the information on their finances and is a key aspect of a contested divorce. However, it may be present in uncontested cases as well, even if spouses agree on property division or child support. The court will still need to check their financial information to ensure the decisions made are fair for all parties involved. The discovery process can take between 2 and 6 weeks.

Judgment and Finalization (1-2 months)

It can take from 1 to 3 months for the court to schedule a hearing. During it, if the paperwork is error-free and the judge finds the agreements made by spouses acceptable, they will make a final decision on the case and sign a Final Order. The court’s workload with other cases can significantly affect the timelines.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in West Virginia?

A contested divorce can take from six months to a year or more, depending on how complex the case is. The factors that influence its duration are, among others:

  • The number of issues spouses disagree on.
  • The period it takes to exchange financial information.
  • Need to collect evidence to prove the other party’s fault.
  • Court-ordered mediation.
  • Separate hearings if either party seeks temporary orders for custody, child support, or spousal support.

Final Thoughts

If you consider a divorce in West Virginia, it is necessary to get acquainted with the basic divorce laws and procedures before filing. The marriage termination process can last from several months to a year or more. To obtain a quick divorce without extra stress, try to agree with your spouse on all divorce-related matters to start an uncontested case. It will likely take you much less time and money than a contested one, with long court battles involved. If the divorce is contested, having a skilled family law attorney who can help with paperwork preparation, represent you in court, and handle any negotiations is reasonable in this emotionally and legally challenging process.

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