You Need an Experienced West Virginia Divorce Lawyer
Our attorneys will stand up for your rights in this difficult time
Going through a divorce is never easy. It’s not just the logistical and financial challenges – figuring out where you’ll live, who will have custody of the children, and how your money and property will be divided – but also coming to terms with the loss of the dream that your marriage represented. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, afraid, and unsure of what’s next.
There’s hope after divorce, and we can help you find it. The West Virginia divorce attorneys at Klie Law Offices have walked with many people through tough transitions. We know how to guide you forward and ensure that you are set up for a brighter future. Schedule your case evaluation with a member of our legal team today.
We can handle all the issues that come up during divorce
The end of your marriage can affect nearly every aspect of your life. We are adept at handling all types of legal issues that emerge during the divorce process, including:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support/alimony
- Property distribution
- Enforcement and contempt of court
When you’re in the midst of a divorce, it’s easy to become so overwhelmed that you just focus on getting through each day. Our attorneys think long-term. We understand that your divorce isn’t just the end of your marriage. It sets terms and conditions that will affect you for a long time. We strive to make sure that each of our clients reaches a solution that will work for the rest of their life.
Is West Virginia a no-fault divorce state?
West Virginia is considered a “hybrid” divorce state, which means you can get either a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce. In order to get a no-fault divorce in West Virginia, you either need to allege “irreconcilable differences” – meaning there has been a breakdown of the marriage that cannot be fixed – or show that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart in different homes for at least one year.
To get a “fault” divorce, you need to show one of the following criteria to prove your spouse is responsible for the end of the marriage:
- Cruel or inhuman treatment – this can include threats of bodily harm, false accusations of adultery, or serious mental, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
- A felony conviction.
- Permanent and incurable insanity.
- Habitual use of drugs or alcohol.
- Abandonment for at least six months.
- Child abuse or neglect.
Remember, even if you have grounds for a fault divorce, it may be easier to get a no-fault divorce. Ultimately, only an attorney can tell you how West Virginia law applies to your particular situation and explain your legal rights and options.
Can you get legally separated in West Virginia?
In West Virginia, you can file for “separate maintenance” in order to get a legal separation without officially getting divorced. Separate maintenance proceedings require the same grounds as divorce (either fault or no-fault) and must address the same issues, including child custody, child support, and property division. The only difference is that you remain legally married at the end of the process, which may be important for insurance purposes, immigration status, or family or religious reasons.
Is West Virginia a 50/50 divorce state?
West Virginia is an “equitable distribution” state, which means your property will not necessarily be split 50/50. The family court is tasked with finding a distribution of property that is fair, but not necessarily equal.
The first step in distributing your property in divorce is dividing all your assets into marital property and separate property. In general, anything you acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, even if only one spouse’s name is on the property itself. There are only a few exceptions, such as inheritances that were in one spouse’s name. Property that you acquired individually prior to the marriage is usually considered separate property.
The courts consider various factors when deciding how to divide your marital property, including how each spouse contributed to the marital property by both monetary and nonmonetary means, how much each spouse affected the other spouse’s ability to earn income, and how much each party contributed to reducing the value of the marital property. If there is a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that contains stipulations about property distribution, the court will normally honor those stipulations.
What happens to debt in divorce in West Virginia?
In addition to property, the court has to divide your debts. Debt division follows the same principle as property division: debts you acquired prior to the marriage are generally considered separate debt, while debt acquired during the marriage is generally considered marital debt. Some exceptions include gambling debts, some types of student loans, and anything spent on an extramarital affair.
Secured debt that is tied to a particular piece of property usually stays with the property. If you get the car, you get the auto loan; if you get the house, you get the mortgage. Unsecured debt (like credit cards and personal loans) is divided at the court’s discretion based on factors such as each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the debt and each spouse’s ability to repay it. A valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can affect debt distribution as well.
How does child custody work in West Virginia divorces?
West Virginia is not necessarily a 50/50 state when it comes to child custody. Family court judges are instructed to determine a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child; the law starts with a presumption that a 50/50 split is in the child’s interest, but that presumption can be overcome with evidence.
Some of the factors that come into play in child custody proceedings in West Virginia include:
- Each parent’s ability to provide a safe and supportive home environment
- Logistical issues, such as the distance between the parents’ homes and cost of transportation
- The child’s education and extracurricular activities
- The child’s medical needs
- Relationships with siblings, including half-siblings and potentially stepsiblings
- The child’s stated preference (if over age 14, or under 14 but still mature enough to articulate a reasonable preference)
Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer today
There’s a lot that is left to the court’s discretion in West Virginia divorces. In addition, if you can negotiate a separation agreement with your spouse, the court will normally accept it as long as it complies with the law and is reasonably fair. That’s why it’s so important that you have an experienced divorce attorney who knows the law, knows the courts, and knows how to advocate for a resolution that meets your needs.
Our law firm would be honored to guide you through the divorce process from start to finish. We are skilled negotiators who know how to handle mediation and other forms of dispute resolution, but we are also litigators who will fight for you in court if that’s what it takes. Throughout the process, you’ll have access to your attorney, paralegal, and legal assistant who is almost always available during business hours. We’re here for you when you need us most.
Divorce is always uncertain. Start with a case evaluation with a member of our team who can get you signed up with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. Contact us today to get started.