West Virginia Divorce Laws
Helping You Navigate the Divorce Laws in West Virginia
Make no mistake: the laws pertaining to the dissolution of marriage in our state can be confusing. While the end of your marriage is in many ways a private matter between you and your spouse, your divorce is also a legal matter in which you must secure the approval of the family law court. If you and your spouse cannot come to agreements on issues such as child custody and visitation rights, child support and property distribution, the judge will intervene and make rulings which you will be required to abide by into the future. Let me, Attorney Erika Klie Kolenich, guide you through this process, advising you of your rights and helping you make informed decisions at every step of the way. I know how difficult this experience may be for you, and will fight to help you reach the end of the process in the best possible position.
West Virginia Divorce: Understanding the Basics
The largest portion of laws which cover the subject of divorce in our state are included in Chapter 48 of the West Virginia Code. According to the Code, ours is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you do not have to prove fault based grounds in order to file for dissolution of your marriage. It is possible to bring a petition for divorce based on grounds including irreconcilable differences and having lived separate and apart for at least a year. If you do bring a fault divorce, you may be able to use the fact of your spouse's misconduct such as adultery or drug addiction to either secure spousal support payments or to avoid being ordered to pay support.
Depending on whether or not you and your spouse are able to settle your affairs out of court, you will either have a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. You can pursue an uncontested divorce through actions such as mediation, or can engage in adversarial litigation in a contested divorce, in which the judge will make rulings based on the evidence and arguments presented in court. An uncontested divorce generally allows the parties to maintain greater control over the outcome, but can be much more difficult to achieve in cases where the relationship has become highly acrimonious. In either case, the court will only approve your divorce when it appears that arrangements have been made which provide for the best interests of everyone involved, particularly the children. This is why it is so important to hire an attorney at the outset of the divorce process: to advise you of your legal options and fight for a settlement or final decree of divorce which works in your favor.