The law relating divorce in the State of West Virginia is enunciated in Chapter 48 of the West Virginia Code.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE AND LEGAL SEPARATION
The Code recognizes two categories of legal grounds for divorce and legal separation
One of the spouses must have been a resident of West Virginia for at least 1 year prior to filing for legal separation.
As per the Law of the state the jurisdiction over domestic relations matters is vested on the circuit courts and family courts. The circuit courts and family courts of this state, by act of the Legislature, are vested with concurrent jurisdiction over the subject matter of divorce. Generally, a family court has the right and authority to adjudicate actions for divorce and the power to carry its judgment and order into execution. Circuit courts have limited jurisdiction in divorce actions.
Jurisdiction of the subject matter of divorce embraces the power to determine every issue or controverted question in an action for divorce, according to the court's view of the law and the evidence.
Further in an action for divorce, it is immaterial where the marriage was celebrated, where the parties were domiciled at the time the grounds for divorce arose or where the marital offense was committed.
If one or both of the parties is domiciled in this state at the time the action is commenced, the circuit courts and family courts of this state have jurisdiction to grant a divorce for any grounds fixed by law in this state, without any reference to the law of the place where the marriage occurred or where the marital offense was committed.
A judgment order may be entered upon service of process in the manner specified in the rules of civil procedure for the service of process upon individuals.
To file a petition for Divorce one of the spouses must have been a resident of West Virginia for at least 1 year immediately prior to filing. However, if the marriage was performed in West Virginia and 1 spouse is a resident when filing, there is no durational time limit. The divorce should be filed for in the county:
If one of the spouse files a verified complaint for divorce on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences," the other spouse may file a verified "answer" admitting the "irreconcilable differences" and a divorce will be granted. Circuit clerks are required to have supplies of an official "petition" and an "answer" form on hand, free of charge. No witnesses will be necessary for any proof for a divorce on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences." In other cases, witnesses will be required. The court may approve or reject a marital settlement agreement of the spouses. Standard financial disclosure forms are required to be filed.
PETITION FOR DIVORCE
An action for divorce is instituted by a verified petition and the formal style and the caption for all pleadings is "In Re the marriage of ________ and ________". The parties shall be identified in all pleadings as "petitioner" and "respondent".
The petition must set forth the ground or grounds for divorce. It is not necessary to allege the facts constituting a ground relied on and a petition or counter-petition is sufficient if a ground for divorce is alleged in the language of the statute as set forth in this article. The court has the discretionary authority to grant a motion to require a more definite and certain statement, set forth in ordinary and concise language, alleging facts and not conclusions of law.
If the jurisdiction of the court to grant a divorce depends upon the existence of certain facts, including, but not limited to, facts showing domicile or domicile for a certain length of time, the petition must allege those facts. It is not necessary that allegations showing requisite domicile be in the language of the statute, but they should conform substantially thereto so that everything material to the fact of requisite domicile can be ascertained therefrom.
A petition cannot be taken for confessed and whether the respondent answers or not, the case shall be tried and heard independently of the admissions of either party in the pleadings or otherwise. No judgment order shall be granted on the uncorroborated testimony of the parties or either of them, except for a proceeding in which the grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS
If the divorce involves a minor child, the court will order the parents to attend a parent education class to educate parents about the effects of divorce and custody disputes on children and teach parents methods to help children minimize their trauma.
West Virginia is an "equitable distribution" state. Each spouse may retain his or her separate property:
However, this equal division may be altered based on consideration of the following factors:
MAINTENANCE & SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Either spouse may be ordered to provide the other spouse with alimony. Factors to be considered are:
Alimony will not be awarded to any spouse who:
Either parent may be awarded custody. There is a presumption in favor of the parent who has been the primary caretaker of the child. The factors for consideration are:
Either parent may be required to provide periodic child support payments, including health insurance coverage. These guidelines do not take into account the economic impact of the following factors that may be possible reasons for deviation:
One of the parents may also be granted exclusive use of the family home and all the goods and furniture necessary to help in the rearing of the children. The court may require health and hospitalization insurance coverage as child support. Provisions for income withholding shall be included in every divorce decree to guarantee the support payments.
A grandparent of a child residing in this state may, by motion or petition make application to the circuit court of the county in which that child resides for an order granting visitation with his or her grandchild.
In making a determination on a motion or petition the court shall consider the following factors: