While many a beautiful romance has blossomed in the Mountain State, not every marriage lasts forever. And if the bloom is off your romantic rose, you might be wondering who gets what in your impending divorce. So how does the law decide which spouse gets the sofa and which spouse gets the silverware? Here's a quick introduction to marital property laws in West Virginia.
Marital Property Law
“Marital property” is a legal concept that refers to all of the shared possessions and interests acquired after a couple gets married. Some states have written statutes that recognize all marital property as "community property," which is owned equally by both parties and therefore must be equally divided in a divorce. Currently, West Virginia has no community property law, which puts the onus on the courts and the parties to come to a marital property agreement.
Marital Property Laws in West Virginia
State marital property laws can vary, depending on where you live. The details of West Virginia’s marital property laws are listed in the below.
Marital Property and Separate Property
As noted above, the majority of the property you buy or receive while you are married is considered marital property. Marital property tends to get jointly divided, normally as close as possible to an even split, in the case of a divorce. There are a few exceptions to the marital property rule, however. Things like inheritance, gifts, and in some cases 401Ks, are considered separate property, which is normally not subject to division.
Absent a state community property law, West Virginia courts will determine a “fair” property division when spouses get divorced. Generally speaking, each party getting about half of the marital property is considered a fair judgment. Still, a court could decide that an unequal property split is fair, especially in cases of one spouse alleging some fault on the part of the other spouse. If the divorcing parties are able to come to their own property division arrangement, most courts will accept their agreement.
More Resources for Marital Property Laws in West Virginia
Divorce is never east, emotionally or legally. FindLaw's section on Divorce and Property can provide you with additional articles and resources on this topic. You can also consult with a West Virginia divorce attorney in your area if you would like legal help with a marital property or divorce matter.