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West Virginia Divorce Laws

Divorce, or the dissolution of marriage in legal terms, is regulated by state laws, as are marriage and other family matters. State divorce laws determine which grounds are acceptable for divorce, whether the parties are even eligible for divorce, and the steps required to finalize the divorce. Some states also have waiting periods, require at least one party to be a resident for a certain period of time, or mandate legal separation prior to divorce.

A "no-fault" divorce may be obtained in every state, which means neither party is responsible for the divorce, typically stated on court documents as "irreconcilable differences" or "irretrievable breakdown." However, states will grant a divorce if one of the parties is able to prove cause, such as bigamy or domestic violence.

This article provides a brief overview of divorce laws in West Virginia.

West Virginia Divorce Laws

A state's legal requirements for divorce set out the process by which we may dissolve a marriage. The details of West Virginia's divorce laws are listed below.

Code Section

§ 48-5-101 et seq. of the West Virginia Code

Residency Requirements

If the cause is adultery, one party must be resident at the time action is brought; if the defendant is nonresident and service cannot be effected within the state, the plaintiff must have been a resident for 1 year prior to the commencement of the action. If grounds other than adultery, one party must be resident at the time the cause arose or since then has become a resident and lived in the state 1 year before action; if parties married in West Virginia, then only one must be resident upon filing, for no specified length of time

Waiting Period


'No-Fault' Grounds for Divorce

Irreconcilable differences

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

Condonation; connivance; plaintiff's own misconduct; offense occurred more than three years prior to divorce action; collusion is not a bar; adultery: voluntary cohabitation after knowledge

Other Grounds for Divorce

Adultery; cruelty or violence; drug/alcohol addiction; insanity (confined for three years prior to the complaint); conviction of crime subsequent to the marriage; neglect or abuse of a child; abandonment or desertion for six months; irreconcilable differences if other party admits; also lived separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for one year

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

No-Fault Divorce Laws

West Virginia offers what is known as a “no-fault" divorce, under which you don't have to prove (or even allege) that your spouse engaged in any specific wrongdoing in order to get divorced. Instead, you only have to tell the court that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences," and the court may grant your divorce and make orders regarding child custody and support.

There are also some legal alternatives to divorce, like an annulment or legal separation. These processes have their own separate requirements and may only apply to specific circumstances. If you have any shared minor children with your spouse you should be familiar with West Virginia child custody laws, as well as state child support guidelines and child support enforcement regulations. FindLaw's section on Divorce can also provide you with additional articles and resources on this topic.

Get Legal Help with Your Divorce Case West Virginia

A divorce can be both emotionally and legally difficult to deal with, but luckily you don't have to go through it alone. If you're going through a divorce in West Virginia, you can contact a skilled local divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process, represent you in court, and handle any negotiations with your spouse.

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