Divorce can be a tumultuous and emotional process, especially when children are involved. Understanding some of the basics of divorce and child custody in WV can help ensure a fair and smooth transition. In this blog, Jason Harwood, a divorce lawyer in Southern WV, discusses some of the common questions people have at the beginning of a divorce:
- What are the acceptable grounds for divorce in WV?
- Should I file for divorce or legal separation in WV?
- What do I need to know about divorce and child custody in WV?
Understanding Divorce and Child Custody in Southern WV
Divorce is never easy, but being prepared and informed about the legal procedures and your options can make the process more manageable. Knowing what to expect can provide peace of mind as you move forward through this stressful process.
The legal grounds for divorce in WV are outlined in WV Code Chapter 48, Article 5. When filing for divorce in WV, you need to state the grounds or reasons for the termination of the marriage. The acceptable grounds for divorce in WV include the following:
- Irreconcilable differences;
- Separation for more than one year by one party’s choice or mutual decision;
- Cruel or inhuman treatment;
- Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction;
- Felony conviction of a spouse in WV or elsewhere;
- Permanent, incurable insanity;
- Desertion for at least six months; and
- Abuse or neglect of a child or children.
The grounds for your divorce can affect the outcome, especially when it comes to asset distribution, support payments, and child custody. Seeking advice from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help you determine the best way to proceed when filing for divorce in WV.
Before diving into divorce, some couples consider a legal separation. But what is a legal separation in WV? A legal separation, called “separate maintenance” under the law (WV Code Chapter 48, Article 4), allows couples to live apart and sort out financial responsibilities without officially ending their marriage.
The grounds for legal separation in WV are the same as those for divorce. Legal separation can also be granted when one party has abandoned, deserted, or failed to provide support for the other. The court can make legal separation orders related to the distribution of assets, child custody, and child support, just as it would in a divorce.
While legal separation doesn’t dissolve the marriage like a divorce does, it offers a middle ground for couples unsure about pursuing a full divorce or for those who have religious or personal reasons for not wanting a divorce. For some, it provides an opportunity to test the waters before making a final decision about the marriage. If a legal separation in WV sounds right for you, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you decide which route to take.
Child custody negotiations can be contentious in a divorce. In WV, the court’s primary consideration is the best interests of the child. State law also includes a presumption that 50/50 custody is in the best interests of the child.
However, the court can consider multiple factors in child custody decisions. These include the parents’ physical and mental health, parent-child relationships, and the child’s wishes (depending on their age and maturity).
Two elements of child custody are considered in WV divorces: physical custody and decision-making responsibility. For example, one parent can have sole physical custody of the child or children, but the other parent may still be granted joint decision-making responsibilities, allowing the non-custodial spouse to continue to have a say in important matters related to their child or children.
Child custody arrangements determine how much time you get to spend with your child or children, and they also impact how much child support is due. Every situation is unique, and what works best for one family might not for another. A skilled attorney can guide you through these child custody negotiations to achieve a result that protects your interests and those of your children.
Get Help with Divorce and Child Custody in WV
Going through a divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. By understanding some of the primary concerns that arise in divorce, you can better prepare for the challenges ahead. If you need assistance, don’t go through it alone. Reach out to a seasoned divorce lawyer in southern WV who can guide you every step of the way.
Jason Harwood is an experienced family law attorney at Harwood Legal PLLC in Logan, WV, and he can help you through the legal processes related to divorce and child custody in WV. Reach out to schedule a consultation by calling 304-752-5015 or completing this online contact form.