The Code of West Virginia Regarding the Grounds for Divorce

By Wayne Thomas

West Virginia offers both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. If the parties agree on the divorce, or one spouse can prove abuse or adultery, the marriage can usually be dissolved without delay. Other grounds, such as separation and desertion, require the parties to complete a waiting period defined by law. Regardless of the grounds for divorce, the existence of marital misconduct may be considered by the court as part of spousal support and custody proceedings in West Virginia.

No-Fault Divorce

If you and your spouse agree the marriage is over, you may pursue a divorce based on irreconcilable differences in West Virginia. This is a no-fault action, which requires only that both spouses attest the marriage relationship cannot be salvaged. No corroborating evidence or proof is required and the divorce can proceed immediately. As an alternative, the state offers an additional no-fault ground of voluntary separation if a couple cannot agree. This ground requires a separation period of one year, based on the voluntary act of one spouse to separate for the purpose of obtaining a divorce. By law, the parties must maintain different residences during the separation period.

Fault Grounds

West Virginia also provides traditional fault grounds for divorce, including adultery, cruelty and desertion. Unlike a no-fault divorce, a period of separation is not required before an injured spouse may file on these grounds. But the ground of desertion requires your spouse to be absent for six months, which operates similar to a waiting period. Also, fault grounds must be proven, which generally requires more than your testimony alone to establish the misconduct. Corroborating evidence might include witness accounts, bank statements showing payments made to support an extramarital affair or a criminal conviction for abuse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Child Abuse

If your spouse has committed child abuse or neglect, this can be the basis for a divorce in West Virginia. This ground is somewhat unique to the state and requires a showing that either physical or mental harm was inflicted on the child or the parent willfully failed to provide support. Support includes covering basic needs, such as food and shelter, as well as ensuring a child receives sufficient education and medical care. Successfully proving abuse or neglect also prevents your spouse from exercising custody rights after the divorce.

Impact of Marital Fault

In addition to affecting custody, marital misconduct can impact the ability of a spouse to receive spousal support in West Virginia. This is true even if the divorce was filed under one of the no-fault grounds, such as voluntary separation. You may introduce evidence of the misconduct at trial; the court will consider it as one factor weighing against an award of spousal support. If the misconduct is adultery, however, West Virginia is one of the few states that specifically bars a guilty spouse from receiving any spousal support. By contrast, when it comes to dividing marital property, the court will do so equally without regard to fault. This is the case regardless of whether the misconduct was grounds for divorce or established separately at trial.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Separation & Divorce in Virginia State


Related articles

Can You Divorce Your Wife for Not Consumating the Marriage?

In many states, the refusal of spouses to engage in sexual relations with their husband or wife may help establish grounds for divorce on claims such as desertion or abandonment. Other states require parties to a "no-fault" divorce, where neither spouse blames the other for the dissolution of the marriage, to refrain from sexual intercourse for a period of time before the divorce can become final.

Can a Third Party in Virginia Be Held in a Divorce Case in an Extramarital Affair?

If an extramarital affair leads to divorce, the jilted spouse might want to know whether Virginia laws provide a way to sue the third party, or the person involved in the affair with her spouse. Although adultery may become relevant to a divorce case, state law does not allow a spouse to sue the third party as part of the divorce proceedings.

Georgia Law on Custody If Adultery Is Committed

When spouses get divorced in Georgia, one spouse's infidelity usually doesn't influence the court's decision when it comes to custody. However, the court will take it into account if the unfaithful spouse's behavior had a negative impact on his children's best interests.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Law on Infidelity in Pennsylvania

Spousal infidelity, referred to as adultery, continues to be recognized as a basis for divorce in Pennsylvania. If your ...

Grounds for Divorce on Mental Cruelty in Illinois

While marital discord is often mutual, sometimes one spouse bears the brunt of intentional and unreasonable mental and ...

The 12 Grounds for a Divorce in Mississippi

Mississippi recognizes 12 fault-based grounds for divorce, and if you choose to file for divorce on one of these ...

Laws About Adultery & Abandonment

Adultery and abandonment are two common issues that can cause a marriage to end in divorce. Although all states will ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED