HOW DO I FILE FOR A DIVORCE WITHOUT A LAWYER? PART 1: WHERE TO FILE.

Today I begin a series of monthly blog posts that describe how to file for divorce without a lawyer.  The process is different in every state.  In the first series, I will outline the steps in West Virginia.  

GETTING STARTED.  You begin the divorce process by filing a petition and related documents with the Circuit Clerk.  However, you must first be sure that your can file for divorce in West Virginia. 

West Virginia must have jurisdiction to be able to grant you the divorce.  Jurisdiction is a complicated legal concept, that requires state to have a connection with your case for a judge to have authority to issue a ruling.  By answering a few questions, you'll be able to figure out if West Virginia has jurisdiction over your case.

CAN I FILE MY DIVORCE IN WEST VIRGINIA? 

A simple flow chart to help you figure this out:

 

IN OTHER WORDS...

  • QUESTION #1:  Do you or your spouse live in West Virginia?

Yes:  Continue to question #2.

No:   One party must live in West Virginia to get divorced in West Virginia. 

  • QUESTION #2:  Did you get married in West Virginia?

Yes:  You can file for divorce in West Virginia. 

No:  Continue to question #3.

  • QUESTION #3:  Has the person living in West Virginia lived here for more than one year?

Yes:  You can file for divorce in West Virginia

No:  You may not file for divorce in West Virginia.  If you didn’t get married in West Virginia and neither you nor your spouse has lived in West Virginia for a year, you cannot file for divorce in West Virginia.

ANOTHER QUESTION:  

HOW CAN I DEMONSTRATE THAT I LIVE IN WEST VIRGINIA? 

Maybe you are still confused.  In our region, a lot of us travel and it can be hard to tell what your legal residence might be. Here are some things that demonstrate your residence.

  • Your driver’s license
  • Mailing address
  • Voter registration
  • Paying taxes and utilities
  • Owning property

ONE LAST QUESTION-- WHAT COUNTY DO WE FILE THE PETITION IN?

What’s next? Exactly where is the petition filed?  You will file at the circuit clerk’s office in the county where you live.  The legal word for that is “venue.”   But where do you file when you and your spouse live in different counties?

  • You can file in the county where you and your spouse last lived together, OR
  • You can file your divorce in the county where your spouse resides, when your spouse resides in West Virginia, OR
  • You can file your divorce in the county where you reside, if your spouse does not live in West Virginia.

You are well on your way to filing for divorce.  In my monthly blog posts about getting a divorce without a lawyer, I will outline the process as simply as possible.  My next post will address the paperwork required to file for divorce and will be posted in mid-January. 

If you'd like to learn more about mediation, we offer a monthly class information session to learn more about divorce options.

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