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West Virginia Articles
West Virginia Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers
West Virginia divorce forms come in two categories: for those with children or for those without children. Divorcing couples with children, either biological or adopted, (including adopted children from a spouse's previous relationship) use one set of forms; childless couples use another.
Couples with children use the Case Information Sheet, Petition for Divorce, Vital Statistics form, Financial Statement, Child Support Income Withholding form, Parent Education Registration form, Proposed Parenting Plan, and Fee Waiver Affidavit (for low-income state residents who qualify).
Couples with no children together must file all of the above forms except those dealing with children.
The West Virginia Supreme Court has created uniform domestic relations forms for all counties within the state; however, a handful of counties retain their own unique documents. Before filing, a party should check with the county clerk's office to determine whether the court prefers a certain set of forms.
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
The petitioner files the divorce papers, when completed, in the county clerk's office. Some of the forms must be notarized, which means signing them under oath in front of a notary public. West Virginia law is very specific about the number of copies to file to open a divorce action. State law requires the following: original plus one copy of the Petition for Divorce; original plus two copies of the Case Information Sheet; original Vital Statistics form (no copies); original Fee Waiver Affidavit, if applicable (no copies); original plus one copy of Financial Statement; original Child Support Income Withholding form, if applicable (no copies); original parent Education Registration form, if applicable (no copies), and an original plus one copy of Proposed Parenting Plan, if applicable.
Serving the Documents
The filing spouse serves the divorce documents upon the opposing side. Service of process requires delivering copies of all the legal documents to the respondent. This ensures fairness, as the respondent is promptly notified of the need to respond.
West Virginia offers a wide range of service options, including personal service, certified mail service, sheriff's service, service by publication, or pick up at the clerk's office.
Disclosing Financial Information
West Virginia law requires both sides to exchange information about all their assets and debts. The Financial Statement is a comprehensive document that asks each party to list all assets and liabilities as well as marital and separate property.
The financial statements help each side identify the most important issues in the case. Trading this information helps the parties negotiate.
The primary consideration in child custody is the best interests of the child, according to the West Virginia Code. The judge in a custody case looks at several factors including who historically served as the primary caretaker of the child, the physical and mental health of the parents and the child, age of the child, and the type of residences maintained by each parent.
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