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Divorce strikes about half of the marriages in West Virginia. This is not a popular statistic to cite to those who have just gotten married, but it is important to remember because it shows the reality of the situation and the likeliness of a divorce. If you are going through one, make sure that you know all of the legal steps to take and the specific laws in the state.
As far as property division goes, this is an equitable property state. This is not the same as equal distribution, but refers more to distribution of assets that the judge deems fair. For instance, if one spouse made more money than the other, he or she may be able to claim a larger part of the joint wealth, rather than having to give half of that wealth to the other party.
However, West Virginia is different than other equitable property states in that the judge is always supposed to begin by assuming an equal split is best. If you or your spouse then want to ask for different division tactics, you can make a case for it. This means that the state uses something of a blend of community property laws and equitable property laws, though the result is that a fair outcome is always sought.
Were you married in West Virginia? If so, it does not matter how long you have lived in the state; you can file for a divorce at any time. If you were not married in the state, though, one of you —- you or your spouse —- needs to be a resident. The established time for residency is 12 months of living in West Virginia.
Two general points of conflict during divorce proceedings are child custody rights and child support obligations. However, despite the fact that these are often hotly debated, the law is fairly clear and straightforward about what will be done.
When it comes to custody, the law maintains that the best interests of the child are of the utmost importance, and that having both parents involved is always best for that child. For this reason, joint custody is typically used. However, even this does not mean that the child's time will be split 50/50 between each parent. If it is best that the child lives with one parent most of the time -— due to the proximity to the school, for example, or the condition of the home —- then the other parent may be allowed to see the child on weekends, vacations, or other set periods of time.
Of course, if there is reason, you may still request sole physical and legal custody. You will simply need to show the judge why this would be in the child's best interests.
Finally, you must know about child support. The algorithm used to determine how much support a child needs and how much each party should provide is complex, so each case ends up being a bit different. However, you should know that the difference in incomes for each spouse will weigh heavily, as will the responsibilities that each party has to the child. For example, if your spouse makes less than you and also is going to have the child for more time, thereby taking on more expenses, you will probably have to pay support.
This does not mean, though, that your spouse is not supporting the child. The amount that your spouse is expected to provide will be calculated and deducted from the whole, leaving you with the remainder.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified divorce lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.