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West Virginia Court Records

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How to file for divorce in West Virginia

The legal term for divorce in West Virginia is absolute divorce. Absolute divorce breaks all matrimonial ties and separates all issues that connect both parties in the marriage. Connecting issues include custody of children, financial accounts, assets and liabilities, etc. Depending on how extensive they run through the marriage, these connecting issues influence the time to complete a divorce and the eventual outcome. As at 2018, the United States Census Bureau reported West Virginia as ranking 7th highest in divorce rates across the country, the actual value being 9.8 divorces per 1000 women aged 15 years and older. It represents a three counts drop in the divorce rate in the state since 2008. The West Virginia State code on divorce forms the bedrock of all legal procedures regarding divorces in the state.

Do I need a reason for divorce in West Virginia?

West Virginia handles both cases of fault and no-fault divorces. Usually, no-fault divorces often present as irreconcilable differences or voluntary separation for over a year. Fault grounds for divorce in the state include cruelty of behaviour towards spouse, extramarital affairs, felony convictions, incurable insanity, alcohol addiction after the marriage, drug addictions, deliberate abandonment or desertion, child abuse or neglect among others. West Virginia courts do not have jurisdiction over a divorce case unless the marriage was contracted within the state, or both parties have been bonafide residents for at least one full year.

Why do I need a divorce lawyer?

Although basic, it takes more than just filling out paperwork to initiate and sucstarty complete a divorce process in West Virginia Court. Family law attorneys have the knowledge and expertise required to follow through with legal proceedings of a divorce case to arrive at a favorable outcome. While the law makes provision for self litigation in filing parties, a divorcing party must take advantage of professional advice or representing services of an attorney to avoid difficulties.

How do I get started in a divorce in West Virginia?

The divorce process in West Virginia is one of the simplest across the states of the Federation. Below is a summary of the basic steps for a divorce in the state:

  • Filing of complaint: to file a complaint in a West Virginia Court, the individual must meet the residency requirement. The West Virginia judiciary system provides online documentation for completing an uncontested divorce. Complete the following forms and submit to the Clerk of the relevant court address:
  • Petition for divorce
  • Statement of petitioner civil case information
  • Vital statistics forms
  • Fiscal statements
  • Stipulated agreement.

Depending on the nuances involved in the marriage, additional paperwork such as a request for child support, parent education registration, proposed parenting plan, may be required. Some counties require additional documents than others. Be sure to check with the local court clerk that all requirements are in place. Incomplete paperwork can lead to the dismissal of the case.

  • Service of papers to the defendant-party: here, the filing party serves copies of the papers to the spouse. The defendant-party has a list of divorce documents he or she must file in return.
  • Final divorce hearing: both parties attend a divorce hearing where the judge completes and signs a final order of divorce. How long it takes to get to the stage depends on many factors. However, a final hearing for divorce cannot take place until a minimum of 20 days have passed from the successful service of process.

How to file for divorce in West Virginia without a lawyer?

Divorcing parties can opt for a process without a lawyer. There are web-based resources that provide instructions about completing a divorce process without an attorney. However, the filing party and the defending party handle all paperwork in the courts. While self litigation may work pretty well for an uncontested divorce, it may be risky to proceed on self-litigation for a contested divorce without a lawyer.

How does West Virginia divorce mediation work?

Divorce mediation in West Virginia is an unofficial process of settling differences between two divorcing parties. Usually, a neutral third-party known as a mediator helps them in the entire process, but leaves the involved parties to take their decisions. The court orders a mediation if there are better chances of achieving practicable solutions and peaceful resolution between both parties. The court does not recommend mediation in cases that involve violence, domestic abuse, substance abuse, or a significant manipulative power. Because of this, the Family Court offices conduct a pre-mediation screening to determine if the part is eligible for a mediation process.

How long after mediation is divorce final in West Virginia?

There is no set time after mediation when divorce must be finalized. The outcome of a mediation process directly influences the trajectory of the case. However, a final divorce hearing must take place at least 220 days from the date of the filing of a petition for divorce with the court.

Are divorce records public in West Virginia?

For divorce records, West Virginia is a closed records state. Only the persons listed in the record, their adult children and grandchildren, and legal representatives of the listed parties can access divorce records in the state. Persons outside this category must have a legitimate interest and a letter of authorisation from the listed parties. Otherwise, a court order will suffice.

How do I get West Virginia divorce records?

The Clerk of the Circuit Court maintains divorce records across the state. Contact the relevant Circuit Court clerk of the local courthouse that granted a divorce. Copying fees may vary by circuit. The vital registration office, Department of Health and Human Resources can assist requesters by providing index information of the relevant divorce record. Indexes at the agency date back to 1968.

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