West Virginia Court Records
Where to Find Family Court Records in West Virginia?
Family courts handle family law cases in West Virginia. These are the trial courts responsible for all family-oriented court cases. Twenty-seven family court circuits are serving the 55 counties of the state. They handle annulment, grandparent visitation, the award of parental responsibility, family support proceedings, marriage, and divorce. Cases of child abuse and child neglect are regarded as criminal cases and, as such, not handled exclusively by the family court. Anyone can access family court records by visiting the courthouse office of the relevant family court circuit or circuit court clerk’s office.
What Is Family Law in West Virginia?
Family law is a collective term used for all legal interpretations of family disputes in the court. Chapter 48 of the West Virginia Code is dedicated to domestic relations, including family interactions. There are over 50 sections in this chapter, and they address issues regarding domestic relations. Among them are:
What Are Family Court Cases and Records in West Virginia?
All matters of legal significance generated from family interactions constitute family court cases in West Virginia. Examples are qualifications for a marriage license, guardianship, child support and custody, divorce, and spousal support. All documentation and filings in respect of a court case under family law are referred to as family court records. Most of them contain copies of petitions and complaints, filings, court summons, court orders, arrest warrants, evidence, health evaluation reports, and court-supervised programs. The most commonly encountered family court cases in West Virginia courts are:
- Divorce: is the legal termination of a marriage union
- Domestic violence: engaging in activities that injure a family member
- Adoption: refers to the legal recognition of an individual or institution responsible for a child’s welfare.
- Separate maintenance: also known as spousal support where a paid spouse provides financial support to the other after divorce or separation.
- Paternity: the establishment of the fatherhood of the child to have custody or access.
- Juvenile delinquency
Are Family Court Cases Public Records in West Virginia?
In line with the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, anyone can access government records through inspection or copying. The law also gives the family court the right to define which record is public or otherwise. Except for court orders filed by the circuit court clerk, all evidence, pleadings, and documents filed in family court records are confidential, during, or after the case is closed. If the hearing discloses any sensitive information, the court orders will seal such files. It could be either by court discretion or upon motion by one of the parties. Parties can only open sealed documents upon orders from the circuit or family court judge. However, the information found at the circuit clerk’s office is considered public records.
How Do I Find Family Court Records in West Virginia?
State Courts in Virginia operate a judicial circuit system. As a result, the office of the circuit court clerk maintains all publicly accessible information. To view or obtain copies, visit the judicial circuit court clerk’s office of the relevant courthouse where the case was filed or heard. Parties can find other portions of family court records at the local courthouse clerk’s office. The documents here are either confidential unsealed information or confidential, sealed information. Only the parties involved, their delegates, representing attorneys, and any other person with a legitimate interest, such as seeking modification or the enforcement of an order, can access both categories.
Third parties can only access sealed court records upon a court motion. Use the court information by the county to get the address of the appropriate court. Request methods, fees and acceptable form of payments may vary by county. Contact the relevant court for information before proceeding to make a request. Generally, most courts will accept a written request submitted either in person or by mail.
How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?
The West Virginia judiciary does not have a central database through which interested persons can view family court records remotely. All online requests will be redirected to the local courthouse clerk’s office. Alternatively, persons who wish to view family court records remotely can engage the services of non-governmental third party websites. Some of them provide remote access to these records, and if in an alliance with the government, they could deliver copies to interested parties. As is with all requests, have ready the necessary information required to search for a record:
- case name or case ID
- the location of the courthouse where the case was filed
- the name of the persons listed in the record
What Is West Virginia Custody Law?
Custody law in West Virginia refers to state guidelines that assist the courts in allocating custodial responsibility upon the event of a divorce. The West Virginia Code allows separating couples to come up with their parenting plan. Suppose there are disagreements between them on the subject. In that case, the court schedules a hearing to decide on the parenting plan. The court decision is final. Joint custody and grandparent’s visitation are allowed within the state custody law’s provisions.
Where to Find Family Court Lawyers in West Virginia
The West Virginia State Bar provides referrals to persons needing the services of lawyers within the state. Be sure to indicate the practice area like family law or domestic relations. The Legal Aid Network of West Virginia provides pro bono services for residents needing an attorney’s services but cannot afford one. Read the eligibility requirements before contacting the organization. Besides, the University of Cornell Law School maintains a directory of attorneys in West Virginia. Use the guide to search by practice areas, city, or county. A cursory search on the internet for independent law firms within the state will return family court lawyers’ results with online visibility. Visit their websites to obtain information about how to contact them.