Uncontested Divorce in West Virginia
There are two primary ways to classify a divorce process: contested and uncontested.
- A contested divorce is when the spouses cannot agree on the final terms of their divorce, including property division, spousal support, child-related issues, and others. Thus, contested divorces may involve multiple court hearings or even a trial, and the judge is ultimately responsible for making decisions for the couple.
- In contrast, the spouses resolve the divorce issues out of court in an uncontested divorce. They have to draft a Marital Settlement Agreement covering such controversial matters as marital property and debt, spousal support, child custody, child support, etc. and submit it for court approval.
Although West Virginia courts do not provide a separate procedure for a simplified divorce, uncontested divorces are typically relatively fast and affordable, especially compared to litigated proceedings.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Paperwork is a crucial part of any West Virginia divorce, whether it is contested or not. West Virginia divorce papers required for a particular divorce case vary depending on county court requirements and each couple's circumstances. Along with that, even a single mistake in legal forms can cause complications and delays. Luckily, this doesn't mean you have to address a law firm to handle your divorce documents or have a legal background to arrange your own divorce without an attorney.
DivorceOnline.com offers a cheap and quick alternative for those who don't want to overpay for lawyer fees or download blank forms and grapple with them independently.
We help to complete West Virginia divorce forms following Family Law and your local court rules. You can get your completed divorce papers and comprehensive filing instructions in only two business days.
Using the service is easy: you only have to complete the online interview and provide your details. Once you have answered all the questions, you can receive your completed divorce forms and instructions on filing them with the proper West Virginia court with no fuss.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in West Virginia
The West Virginia divorce process takes several consecutive steps.
According to the West Virginia Code, Family Court has jurisdiction over a divorce case if:
- either spouse has lived in West Virginia for at least one year before filing a divorce petition, or:
- if the spouses were married in West Virginia, and either the petitioner (the filing spouse) or the respondent currently resides within the state.
West Virginia recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. A fault-based divorce occurs if the petitioner claims (and can prove before the court) that the marital misconduct committed by the other spouse led to the marriage breakdown. West Virginia fault grounds for divorce include:
- Cruel treatment
- Conviction of a felony
- Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction
- Willful desertion (for at least six months)
- Abuse or neglect of a child
- Permanent and incurable Insanity (given that the spouse has been confined in an institution for at least three years before starting a divorce action)
In contrast, no-fault divorce does not require showing any wrongdoing by either party. West Virginia grounds for no-fault divorce are:
- Irreconcilable differences
- Voluntary separation for at least one yea
To start the West Virginia divorce process, the petitioner must file a divorce petition and other completed divorce forms with the County Clerk's Office.
Divorce papers in West Virginia
Primary West Virginia divorce papers needed to start a divorce include:
- Petition for Divorce (SCA-FC-101)
- Petitioner's Civil Case Information Statement (SCA-FC-103)
- Financial Statement (SCA-FC-106)
- Vital Statistics Form (SCA-FC-104)
Other court forms may be required at the further stages of the divorce process, and they vary depending on the county and individual circumstances of a particular divorce case. For example, the spouses may need to complete additional documents if they have minor children, either spouse is a military member, etc.
The law requires the petitioner to pay a court filing fee to start a divorce case. The standard filing fee is $135 in West Virginia. An additional fee is provided for the service of the divorce papers on the respondent by certified mail or through the Sheriff's Department ($20 and $25, respectively).
If the petitioner cannot afford the filing fees, they can request a waiver by completing the Financial Affidavit and Application form.
There is no mandatory waiting period between filing for divorce and the date the final judgment can be entered in West Virginia. However, the respondent has 20 days to serve the Answer on the petitioner, so even a simple divorce cannot be finalized before then.
The spouse initiating the divorce case must deliver Summons, a copy of the Petition for divorce, and other filed divorce documents to the other spouse. The serving of paperwork is called service of process and can be accomplished in one of the following ways:
- by the Sheriff's Department;
- by the private process server, i.e., any adult person who is not a party to the case (the process server must complete and file with the Circuit Clerk a special affidavit as an acknowledgment of service);
- via certified mail (return receipt requested);
- with an Acceptance of Service form (the respondent must sign this form in front of a Notary Public, and the petitioner must file the signed form with the Circuit Clerk).
Once all the required divorce documents are filed, the spouses can receive a Scheduling Order notifying them about the court hearing. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses have to prepare their Marital Settlement Agreement and (if they have minor children) Parenting Plan in advance.
Generally, both spouses are required to attend a final hearing. However, court hearings are typically brief in uncontested divorces based on irreconcilable differences.
If all the required papers are completed correctly, both spouses agree to end the marriage, and their settlement is valid, the court can grant a divorce.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In a West Virginia divorce, spouses with minor children can resolve parenting time (also referred to as physical custody) and decision-making responsibilities (legal custody) on their own. For that, they must come up with a Proposed Parenting Plan and submit it for court approval. If they cannot reach an agreement even after participating in divorce mediation, the court makes the relevant decisions based on the child's best interests after evaluating multiple factors, including:
- each parent's physical and mental health;
- each parent's overall stability;
- each parent's participation in past decision-making on behalf of the child;
- each parent's wishes regarding custody;
- the child's custody preferences, if of sufficient age and maturity
- the child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and other family members;
- the child's emotional, educational, and physical needs;
- prior agreements of the parties;
- the parents' geographical proximity
- any history of domestic violence;
- any other factors the court may deem relevant to the child's best interests.
Besides, all divorcing parents must complete a Parent Education Class before the court hearing and file a Class Completion Certificate with the Clerk's Office.
As for child support, West Virginia Family Law states that children have a right to share in their parents' living level. Thus, West Virginia follows the Income Shares Support Formula to determine the appropriate amount of child support. This formula considers the parents' gross income, the number of children, the child's amount of time with each parent, and child-related expenses.
Generally, the obligation to pay child support ends when a child reaches the age of 18, but the payments can be extended until the child reaches the age of 20 if they remain in secondary school.
The following additional forms are required in divorces involving minor children:
- Application for Child Support and Income Withholding Form (SCA-FC-113)
- Worksheet for Individual Proposed Parenting Plan (SCA-FC-128)
- Family Court Parenting Plan (SCA-FC-121)
- Motion to Adopt Individual Proposed Parenting Plan (SCA-FC-129)
- Minor Children Financial Statement (SCA-FC-106)
- Parenting Class Completion Certificate
Filing for Divorce in West Virginia Without a Lawyer
The main advantage of an uncontested divorce based on irreconcilable differences is that if both spouses agree on all the final terms of their divorce and do not desire legal advice, they can arrange the process without a lawyer and save money on legal fees.
State law does not prohibit the parties from representing themselves in a divorce case as Pro Se litigants or preparing for filing the West Virginia divorce online.
Thus, if the spouses are willing to cooperate, they have a lot of low-cost alternatives to hiring a full-scope attorney, such as mediation, counseling, online divorce services, and more.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in West Virginia
- A DIY divorce must still satisfy the court's requirements, and if a couple is not aware of their particular legal rights and obligations and make mistakes in divorce forms, the court can reject them.
- To help you avoid such risks, DivorceOnline.com provides a straightforward tool for inexpensive divorce paperwork preparation. For as little as $139, this online divorce service allows you to obtain your ready-to-file divorce forms in two business days.
- DivorceOnline.com does not sell blank forms. Although we cannot provide legal advice, we strive to help couples make complicated divorce paperwork more manageable. DivorceOnline can guide you through selecting and completing the relevant West Virginia divorce papers. Besides, you'll get written instructions on filing your case with the court.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The minimum time for an uncontested divorce is defined by the time the respondent has to serve the Answer on the filing party. However, even the most straightforward divorce cases typically take a little bit more time due to multiple factors affecting the length of the process. An average uncontested divorce in West Virginia takes about 30-90 days, assuming the spouses have reached an agreement about child and spousal support, property issues, etc.
The divorce cost in West Virginia may range from $3,000 to $23,000 on average, depending on whether the spouses can settle all the disputed issues independently (for example, through mediation) or the case requires a trial. Generally, the more the spouses are willing to cooperate, the less the cost.
If the plaintiff cannot afford to pay the court filing fee, they may request a fee waiver by completing the Financial Affidavit and Application form. The court will consider the applicant's financial situation to decide if they are eligible to be exempted from filing fees.
West Virginia divorce forms include but are not limited to Petition for Divorce (SCA-FC-101, Civil Case Information Statement (SCA-FC-103), Financial Statement (SCA-FC-106), Vital Statistics Form (SCA-FC-104), Acceptance of Service (SCA-FC-105), Notice of Hearing (SCA-FC-107), Certificate of Service (SCA-FC-314), Answer to Divorce Petition (SCA-FC-108), Acceptance of Service (SCA-FC-105), Family Court Parenting Plan (SCA-FC-121), etc.