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Is there an alternative to divorce in West Virginia?

Jun 21, 2018 | Firm News

Divorce is a difficult and significant decision. The transition not only affects you and your spouse, but your children and other family members involved. You might not feel like divorce is right at this time, but separation would be beneficial. West Virginia offers an alternative that is less permanent. Separate maintenance may be an appropriate option for couples who are considering other routes when it comes to the legal aspect of separating.

Grounds for separate maintenance in West Virginia

Separate maintenance is possible if one or more of the residency requirements are met. Situations in which you and your spouse would be legally able to separate includes the following:

  • Marriage took place in West Virginia
  • At least one party is a current resident
  • At least one party has been a resident for one year or more
  • Residency must continue throughout legal process

How is separate maintenance different than divorce?

Although West Virginia does not offer legal separation – an arrangement where a couple remains married but lives apart – separate maintenance is similar. The court recognizes the same issues that would be brought up in a divorce, but the marriage itself remains legal. Just like divorce, both spouses must meet state requirements for their requests to be granted. Spouses will then supply legal reasons for the separation. Some couples prefer this option, because it can be temporary.

How does separation maintenance in West Virginia differ from other states?

While other states offer just one option for a no-fault case – a case based on irreconcilable differences – West Virginia allows spouses to assert no-fault or fault-based grounds. While the fault-based option is a more strenuous process, the no-fault option is less of an investment financially, timewise and sometimes emotionally.

In West Virginia, couples can pursue separation based on living apart for a year. If you and your spouse decide to get back together, the one-year minimum will restart. This is a good option for spouses looking at temporary separation, and provides time to make more permanent personal and legal decisions.

Does separation maintenance require an agreement?

Separate maintenance requires a legal contract to clarify expectations for each party. Child custody, child support, property division, and insurance are a few of the terms that will be covered in the contract. You can modify your contract if situations change in the future. While separation maintenance isn’t final, the arrangement can expedite the process of divorce if you choose to do so.