How to File for Uncontested Divorce in West Virginia?

woman filing documents for divorce in west virginia

An uncontested divorce is usually a less costly and complicated way to end a marriage than contested cases. It means that you and your spouse have already reached an agreement on the property division, custody of children, alimony, visitation schedule, etc. If you start an uncontested divorce in West Virginia, you can even act independently without the involvement of lawyers. From this article, you will learn what documents you should prepare and what steps are required during the divorce.

steps for filing for divorce in West Virginia
Steps for filing for divorce in West Virignia

Step 1: Meet the Residency Requirements

To initiate a marriage dissolution process, you must first ensure that you meet the residency requirements for divorce. You can file a petition with the court if:

  • You and your spouse were married in West Virginia, and one of you lives in the state at the time of filing. In this case, the duration of living in the state does not matter.
  • You were married out of state, but one of the spouses currently resides in the state and has lived there for at least one year.

Step 2: Determine Your Grounds for Divorce

In West Virginia, marriage dissolutions can be based on fault or no-fault reasons. Before filing for divorce in WV, you should clearly determine what caused the breakdown of marital relations in your case since you will need to indicate this ground in the petition. Most often, uncontested divorces are no-fault, where neither party blames the other one for the marriage breakup. No-fault grounds for marriage dissolution in West Virginia can be:

  • irreconcilable differences that make marital relationships impossible to continue;
  • separation for a year or more without cohabitation, when one of the spouses voluntarily separated from the other.

In fault divorce cases, one spouse claims that the other party’s actions led to the marriage termination. The grounds, in such a case, can be:

  • adultery;
  • cruel treatment;
  • conviction of a felony;
  • incurable insanity;
  • drunkenness or drug addiction;
  • desertion for 6 months or more;
  • child abuse or neglect.

Fault divorces commonly take more time to finalize and, in most cases, require the involvement of legal professionals to help spouses reach an agreement on marriage termination issues.

To start an uncontested case, make sure there are no disputes between you and the other party, and you are not going to show to the court that you blame each other for the fact the marriage came to its end.

Step 3: Prepare the Necessary Documents

filled out stack of divorce papers

To initiate a divorce, one of the spouses needs to prepare divorce documents and submit them to the court. The mandatory list of forms will depend on whether a couple has minor children, whether it is necessary to serve the other party, if there is property to divide, etc.

The main documents needed for a divorce in West Virginia include:

  • A petition for divorce containing information about the grounds and conditions of marriage dissolution.
  • Petitioner’s Civil Case Information Statement – Domestic Relations Cases. This document includes additional information about the case and the parties, the names and birth dates of children, if any, the involvement of lawyers, etc.
  • Financial Report, in which you need to indicate your income, assets, and other financial info.
  • Vital Statistics Form.

If spouses have minor children, additional documents will be required. They will include:

  • Forms related to child support issues.
  • A proposed parenting plan, containing information on responsibilities of parents when it comes to custody and visitation of children.
  • Parent Education Notice, informing that parents are aware of the need to complete a training course to prepare children for divorce.

Another document that may be needed during an uncontested divorce is Acceptance of Service, which means that a respondent voluntarily accepts the forms, and the service step may be omitted.

If you would like to save time on preparing complicated legal documents but turning to a lawyer’s help is not an option, consider ordering divorce papers from trusted online services. At a reasonable fee, you will get the forms necessary for your uncontested case and instructions on how to submit them to the court and what to do next.

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Step 4: File the Paperwork

A petitioner must file the divorce forms with the circuit clerk’s office. If your spouse is a resident of the state, you need to apply for a divorce in the county where a respondent lives or where you last lived together.

In cases where the location of the other party is unknown, or they do not live in the state, you can file the petition in the county where you previously lived together or where you live.

When filing documents, you must pay a fee of $135. If you have a low income and are unable to cover the fees, you can file a Financial Affidavit and Application: Eligibility for Waiver of Fees, Costs, or Security in a Civil or Domestic Case.

Step 5: Serve the Divorce Papers

man serving the divorce papers to spouse

After filing the papers, a petitioner must serve the other spouse with copies of documents. In West Virginia, divorce forms can be delivered by a petitioner in person if a respondent agrees to sign an Acceptance of Service before a notary public. If not, there are several other ways to serve your spouse:

  • The sheriff’s service, which involves the delivery of papers by the Sheriff’s Department. It typically costs around $25.
  • Certified mail service, when a letter with prepared forms with the return receipt requested will be sent to a respondent. The cost of the service is $20, and it can be arranged through the circuit clerk’s office.
  • Private process server, when the person over 18 years of age serves documents on the other party and files with the clerk’s office an affidavit stating where and when the documents were delivered.

If the location of the other spouse is unknown or the party resides outside the state, serving the forms is permitted by publication in a local newspaper. After receiving the documents, the other party has 20 or 30 days to respond, depending on service type.

Step 6: Complete the Waiting Period

In West Virginia, there is no mandatory waiting period from filing the petition till the moment when the court can make a final decision on the case. However, it is necessary to wait at least 20 days after serving divorce documents, the time allocated for a respondent to file an answer. If a couple has minor children, the divorce will not be granted until parents attend a training course to prepare kids for marriage dissolution.

Step 7: Negotiate and Resolve Issues

couple negotiating the divorce terms

In uncontested divorce cases, couples usually reach an agreement on property division, child custody, and alimony before they file for divorce. If they have difficulties during the negotiation process, they can try to agree on their own or involve mediators. They are professionals who help spouses resolve their divorce issues and come to an agreement out of court to reduce overall divorce expenses and have more control over their case.

Step 8: Finalize the Divorce

For finalizing a divorce in West Virginia, spouses should attend a court hearing. If your case is uncontested, you will likely get divorced during this first hearing. The judge will ask you a few questions, check the documents, and make a decision on your marriage dissolution based on the agreements you have reached with your spouse. After that, you will get a copy of the Final Order, which is only valid if the judge signs it. From this moment, spouses are officially divorced.

Commonly Asked Questions

How do I start filing for divorce in West Virginia?

To start a divorce process in West Virginia, make sure you meet the residency requirements, prepare the paperwork needed for your case, and file it with the county’s clerk office.

Where to file your divorce case?

Divorce cases in West Virginia are handled by the Family Court. You need to file the petition with the circuit clerk’s office. If a respondent lives in the state, you can file in the county where they reside or where you previously lived together. If the other party is not a state resident, submit the forms in the county where you last lived together with your spouse or where you currently live.

How much are divorce filing fees in West Virginia?

The filing fee in West Virginia is $135. There are also fees for serving a spouse, which are around $25, depending on the method chosen. Low-income couples can apply for a fee waiver and avoid mandatory costs.

How many days does it take to file for divorce in West Virginia?

You can file for divorce in one day, but you may need several days or even weeks to prepare the necessary forms if you act on your own. You can save time using an online document preparation service and get the ready-to-file divorce papers in a few days.

Can you file for divorce online in West Virginia?

It is possible to submit divorce documents online using the West Virginia E-filing system. However, clarify in advance if online filing is a suitable option for your divorce case.

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