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When will West Virginia grant someone a divorce by default?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Divorce

There are multiple technical steps involved in a West Virginia divorce. One of the first is the process of filing paperwork with the appropriate courts. The next usually involves serving preliminary paperwork to one’s spouse. Typically, this step utilizes a paid process server, although sometimes there will be direct service from one spouse to the other or specialized service through the mail when other options have failed. Prompt service is an important step toward better ensuring fairness during a divorce.

The details in the paperwork provided by the spouse who files will inform the other that they want a divorce and also about their proposed terms for matters including support, property division and custody matters. Typically, the person who receives that formal service will then file their response with the courts, a step which often includes suggesting alternate terms.

In some cases, the West Virginia courts will end up granting the terms proposed by the person who files a divorce due to the default of the other. What triggers this particular outcome?

A lack of response leads to divorce by default

The party petitioning the courts for divorce who files the initial paperwork can effectively set all of the terms if the other spouse responding to their filing fails to counter any of their requests. In some cases, the spouse served will agree that the proposed terms are fair and will cooperate to move forward with an uncontested divorce.

However, some people do not handle the divorce process gracefully and appropriately. They may experience profound denial or try to run away from their problems by ignoring them. This can ultimately lead to a divorce by default, as the person served usually only has 20 days to respond before the courts will consider the delay to constitute a default. Time is of the essence for those who are preparing for a West Virginia divorce and are hoping to obtain favorable terms. Although a divorce by default can be one of the fastest paths to the end of a marriage, it may eventually give rise to other challenges later, like modification requests to change a custody order.

Learning more about the benefits of different approaches to divorce in West Virginia may help those who are planning to file or recently served determine what step to take next. Seeking legal guidance is usually a good starting point.