WEST VIRGINIA DIVORCE MADE EASY. DOCUMENTS DONE RIGHT!
WEST VIRGINIA 3STEPDIVORCE TM - KEEPING YOUR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE SIMPLE
|This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of West Virginia. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.
With 3StepDivorce TM you can complete and print your divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Then, follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your own divorce in West Virginia in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your WV no fault divorce and also avoids the use of third-party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.
Online Divorce FAQ: West Virginia
Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.
Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.
If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in West Virginia.
How Does Online Divorce Work in West Virginia?
West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.
Can I File for Divorce in West Virginia?
West Virginia has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a legally recognized reason for ending your marriage and state residency.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in West Virginia?
West Virginia law allows both “no-fault” and “fault-based” legal reasons (“grounds”) for divorce. When you file for a fault-based divorce, you must claim that your spouse is to blame for the end of your marriage by committing a certain type of misconduct (like adultery, addiction, desertion, or child abuse). Because you’ll have to prove that claim, fault-based divorces almost always cost more and take longer to resolve—without any advantage in the vast majority of cases.
To file for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse may simply agree that you have “irreconcilable differences.” Basically, that means that you can’t get along, and there’s no reasonable hope that will change. (W. Va. Code § 48-5-201 (2022).)
If your spouse won’t agree to declare (in the answer to your divorce petition) that you have irreconcilable differences, you could still get a no-fault divorce, but you would have to be separated for a full year (living apart in different homes, with no sexual relations) before you could get divorce. And that separation must be voluntary, at least for one of you. (Va. Code § 48-5-202 (2022).)
Not surprisingly, most divorcing couples in West Virginia choose to file based on irreconcilable differences. That’s also the only way to qualify for a quick and cheap uncontested divorce (more on that below).
What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in West Virginia?
West Virginia has different residency requirements for getting divorced in the state, depending on where you and your spouse were married:
- If you were married in West Virginia, either you or your spouse must be a genuine resident of the state when you file your initial divorce papers.
- If you were married elsewhere, you or your spouse must have resided in West Virginia for a full year, without interruption, since the reason for the divorce happened.
(W. Va. Code § 48-5-105 (2022).)
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in West Virginia?
Many West Virginia residents can get through the divorce process without hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an “uncontested divorce” in the state. That means that they’ve agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:
- how to divide their property and debts
- alimony (known as “spousal support” in West Virginia law), and
- child custody, visitation, and child support (if they have minor children).
If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.
Can I Use West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?
We follow standard procedures for uncontested, DIY divorces based on the local process. Our service requires both parties to be cooperative and in full agreement. Therefore, our services use no-fault grounds (for example, "irreconcilable differences") and each party will waive certain procedural rights.
We cannot accommodate cases that involve: existing cases or support orders; domestic violence; restraining orders; contested issues; missing spouses; protected addresses; common law marriages; dissolution of registered domestic partnerships; pregnancy; temporary or retroactive support orders; lack of jurisdiction over the children under the UCCJEA; exclusive jurisdiction over the case by another court; third-party child custody or support; or children who are emancipated or otherwise not dependent on the parties. Some cases may require additional forms or filing requirements that are not provided by our service, including but not limited to cases involving: filing fee waivers; change in address; recipients of public assistance; division or transfers of retirement accounts; and multiple visitation plans.
What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?
Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.
Can I Get an Online Divorce in West Virginia If I Have Children?
Generally, you can use West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.
However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues with West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in West Virginia with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule. (W. Va. Code §§ 48-20-102(g), 48-20-201 (2022).)
How Will My Online Divorce in West Virginia Deal With Child Support?
In West Virginia, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, West Virginia has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.
3StepDivorce™ provides West Virginia’s child support worksheets for calculating the state's guideline level of support for your parenting arrangement. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will need to approve your agreement and make it part of a formal court order.
West Virginia law requires that any time the amount of child support deviates from the guideline, the judge must find that applying the guideline would be “inappropriate” under the circumstances. Those circumstances might include children’s special needs, extra costs for visitation when the parents live far apart, and large families. (W. Va. Code § 48-13-702 (2022).)
In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.
Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?
After your divorce in West Virginia is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you’ll need to show that your circumstances have changed substantially. In order to meet that standard, the guideline amount of support under the changed circumstances would have to be at least 15% higher or lower than the support level in the existing order. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order. (W. Va. Code § 48-11-105 (2022).)
If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. But you’ll still have to file a request and submit your agreement for the judge’s review, so that the new amount will be included in a formal court order.
The West Virginia Judiciary’s Family Court Forms page includes instructions and the form for an expedited modification based on a substantial change in financial circumstances.
You can get help with a child support modification by asking the West Virginia Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) to review your existing support order to see if it should be changed under the guidelines, based on your current financial situation. Contact the local BCSE office in the county where your divorce or previous support order was issued.
How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?
When you fill out your questionnaire for West Virginia 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.
What About the Family Home?
If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:
- selling the house and splitting the proceeds
- transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or
- continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).
What About Retirement Accounts?
In your West Virginia 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.
If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.
Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.
The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)
Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in West Virginia?
You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your West Virginia divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.
How Do I File My Divorce Papers in West Virginia?
When you get your completed forms with West Virginia 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be file the paperwork with the Circuit Clerk of the West Virginia Family Court in the county:
- where your spouse lives
- where you live, if your spouse lives out of state, or
- where you and your spouse last lived together.
(W. Va. Code § 48-11-106 (2022).)
How Much Is West Virginia’s Filing Fee for Divorce?
The court clerk will charge a fee of $135 for filing the divorce papers. (W. Va. Code § 59-1-111(a)(3) (2022).)
What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?
If you can’t afford the filing fee, you may submit a signed and notarized application for fee waiver and financial affidavit. You’ll have to provide detailed information about your income (along with documentation), as well as your expenses and property. If you qualify, you won’t have to pay the filing fee or any other court costs in your divorce.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in West Virginia?
Even when your divorce is uncontested, you’ll need to attend a hearing to finalize your divorce. The court won’t schedule this hearing until at least 20 days after you’ve served your spouse with the divorce papers. (W. Va. Rules Prac. & Proc. Fam. Ct., rule 21(c) (2022).) If you have children, you’ll also usually have to complete a parent education class before you can get to the hearing stage.
In practice, it usually takes longer than 20 days—typically one to three months—to get your final divorce in West Virginia. Exactly how long will largely depend on the court’s schedule in your county.
How Can I Get More Help With West Virginia Online Divorce?
West Virginia 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, e-mail us at [email protected].
Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about West Virginia law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.