Marriages don’t always work. You may never realize all the dreams and aspirations you thought you would, but, that is life. What you need to do, however, is to be ready for anything that can happen, especially if see red flags. You can lower the risk of making costly mistakes, and also avoid financial and emotional stress by knowing your options beforehand.
In West Virginia, you can file for legal separation if you need to be apart from your partner without breaking your marriage vows. Unlike other states, the state of West Virginia lets you file for separation maintenance. The process of filing the separation maintenance is almost similar to the one followed when filing for divorce except for the part where you stay married after signing the separate maintenance agreement. You are single after divorce.
The upside of a legal separation/ separation maintenance is that it expedites the divorce process if things fail to work and you get divorced.
Process of separation
If you wish to separate mutually and you would like to negotiate, you get the West Virginia marital separation agreement. A separation agreement refers to an enforceable contract between spouses which covers the terms and the conditions for separation. A marital separation agreement in West Virginia will cover all the terms and the conditions for separation including child and spousal support, division of assets and debts, as well as visitation.
If you file for a divorce, later on, the judge in the West Virginia family law court will incorporate the agreement into the divorce decree, as long as it is reasonable and fair to both spouses.
What happens when you wish to separate but divorce later?
For the couple aware of a looming divorce but they just wish to wait things out or get prepared, they can separate for a year. The separate agreement is important here because it controls the terms of the breakup. There are conditions couples should meet for the separation to be effective as the preliminary for the divorce – both spouses should separate physically.
However, a reconciliation starts the clock again, and a separated couple cannot divorce until a year elapses from the beginning of the new separation.
What happens after the separation?
Even after separation, a partner can file a petition for separate maintenance if and when the other partner refuses to pay support. This is only enforceable in court-ordered separations. Once in court, the judge will address support, custody, as well as property division.
Note that either spouse can file for separate maintenance even when he or she doesn’t want a divorce.
Separation maintenance complaints
A complaint for separation maintenance will call for the same information as the information needed for a divorce complaint. The information includes:
Identification of the parties
Identification of the children
Date of the marriage
Grounds for the separation maintenance complaint
Unresolved issues like alimony, child support, custody, and visitation terms
The use of marital property
For action on the complaint on separate maintenance, you will have to file the complaint in the West Virginia county where the respondent lives, or the county where you both last lived together. This action needs to be filed in the family division of the circuit court.
Conditions for filing Separate Maintenance (legal separation)
Irreconcilable differences (no-fault)
Living apart and without cohabitation for a year
One of the spouses must live in West Virginia for at least a year before you file for a separation
Process of filing a separate maintenance complaint
First, the respondent gets served with a copy of the complaint – have the county sheriff deliver it
If the court considers this filing no-fault, the respondent will have to agree in writing that the marriage is suffering from irreconcilable differences and it cannot be saved. This statement must be notarized.
Finally, the petitioner files it with the court.
If you mutually agree that you need to separate or that you may need to at some point, you should fill the above steps to get a free marital separation agreement to simplify the separation process.
Whether you live in Charleston, Huntington or any other city of West Virginia, you can use our legal forms easily.