A divorce can leave a long-lasting impact on the life of each spouse, ranging from their financial security to their relationships with children. If your spouse has filed for divorce or if you are considering filing, you should retain an attorney who will assist you in protecting your interests. The West Virginia divorce lawyers at Rich & Gutta can help navigate the emotional and financial complexities of legally dissolving a relationship. We bring an aggressive approach to litigation, while providing compassionate guidance to those going through life-changing events.Requirements for Obtaining a Divorce in West Virginia
West Virginia allows parties to seek no-fault or fault-based divorces. A no-fault divorce petition essentially alleges that the marriage failed due to differences between the parties that cannot be repaired. Notably, both parties must agree that irreconcilable differences caused the end of the marriage for a no-fault divorce to be granted.
Conversely, in a fault-based divorce, the person filing the petition argues that the other spouse acted in a manner that led to the downfall of the marriage. West Virginia allows for fault to be assigned in cases involving adultery, violence or cruelty, addiction to drugs or alcohol, insanity, or a conviction of a crime. A fault-based divorce may also be sought when a person abuses or neglects a child or abandons or deserts his or her spouse for at least six months. Simply because the grounds for seeking a fault-based divorce exist does not necessarily mean that it is the best way to proceed, as there may be advantages to seeking a no-fault divorce. A divorce attorney at our West Virginia firm can advise you on which approach may be better for you.Dividing Property in Divorce
Under West Virginia law, any assets or property that either spouse acquires during the marriage is considered marital property, unless it falls under an exception. Exceptions include property that a spouse obtained via a gift, or through a will or under intestacy laws. Property that was specifically defined as separate property via a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and property that either spouse obtained before the marriage will not be treated as marital property either.
In cases involving the co-mingling of separate and marital property, dividing property can be complicated. For example, property that a person acquires during a marriage in exchange for separate property that the person owned before the marriage is considered separate property. In other words, if a person sells a house that is separate property and uses the money to buy a new home, the new home is arguably separate property as well. However, the other spouse might dispute whether all or some of the funds used to obtain the house were indeed separate. Additionally, some increases in the value of separate property are considered marital property, while others remain separate. A forensic accountant can be retained to trace the property back to its original source and to assess its value.
Once a court determines the scope of the marital property, the law generally requires that it divide such property equally between the spouses. However, courts are permitted to deviate from an equal division if they find that it is warranted under the circumstances. Factors that courts will consider in determining whether to grant one spouse more than half of the marital assets include the income and earnings of each spouse, the extent to which either spouse contributed to the acquisition of the property, and the separate property of each spouse. The court will also weigh whether one spouse took care of the household and children, or contributed to the education and training of the other spouse, as well as several other relevant factors.Speak to a Trusted West Virginia Attorney
Ending a marriage can be an arduous and lengthy process. If you need assistance with moving forward to the next stage of your life, the attorneys at Rich & Gutta can discuss your options and develop a personalized strategy to help you seek a fair and efficient resolution. You can reach the divorce lawyers at our West Virginia firm by calling us at our Morgantown office at (304) 924-7001 or using our online form to schedule a confidential and free consultation.