Divorce: How To File Your Divorce Case

Last Updated On: 4/16/2015 8:05:42 PM

View the Divorce Tookit for more information about divorce.

How do I file for divorce?

There are several forms you need to fill out. You can get the forms in any circuit clerk’s office. The circuit clerk office is in the county courthouse. You may have to pay a small fee at the circuit clerk’s office if you pick the papers up there. If you cannot afford the fee, ask to fill out a "financial waiver" form.

You can also print the forms from the Internet, for free, from the web site of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Web site. Click here for the Supreme Court web site with divorce forms.

There are other websites that may offer family law forms. Some of them will charge you money, but you should use the official free forms from the Supreme Court website.

When you have finished filling out the forms, give them to the circuit clerk’s office. Some of the forms must be signed and notarized. The number of forms depends on whether you have children.

Does the divorce cost money?

Normally, you have to pay a "filing fee" to the circuit clerk to file for divorce, and a fee to have the papers served on your spouse, and possibly other court fees.

If you cannot afford to pay these fees, you can fill out a Fee Waiver Form. This  form is at the clerk’s office, and it is also available at the Supreme Court web site of forms. On this form you will have to disclose all of the income and property held by each person in the home. Click here if you want to learn more about asking for a Fee Waiver.

The clerk will then review the affidavit. If you qualify for a fee waiver, you will not have to pay the filing fee or other court fees. If you do not qualify, because your household income is too high or your assets are too high, then you will have to pay the filing fee to start the divorce.

What forms do I have to fill out?

Some Family Court Judges want you to use their own forms instead of the WV Supreme Court web site forms. Even in those counties, you can file for divorce with the W.Va. Supreme Court’s forms. But you may not be using your judge’s favorite forms. You may want to ask the clerk's office whether the Family Court Judge in that county uses the Supreme Court forms or something different.

Divorce without children. If you and your husband or wife do not have children you will need to fill out the following forms :

  1. divorce petition,
  2. civil case information statement for a Family Court case,
  3. vital statistics form,
  4. financial statement,
  5. BCSE form if you want to ask for alimony or spousal support.
  6. You may also file the fee waiver form if your income is too low to pay the divorce filing fee and court costs.

There are instructions for the divorce petition, which can be found here

Divorce with Children. You will need to fill out the following forms (1) if you have children (2) with your husband or wife you are divorcing:

  1. divorce petition,
  2. civil case information statement for a family court case,
  3. vital statistics form,
  4. financial statement,
  5. child support income withholding form,
  6. parent education registration form, and
  7. proposed parenting plan, if you and the other parent are able to agree on a parenting plan,
  8. worksheet for individual proposed parenting plan if you and the other parent cannot agree on a parenting plan, and
  9. motion to adopt individual proposed parenting plan if you and the other parent cannot agree on a parenting plan.
  10. You also file the fee waiver form if your income is too low to pay the divorce filing fee and court costs.

There are instructions for the divorce petition, which can be found here  

What are all those forms used for?

(1) The divorce petition. The divorce petition is the "master sheet" of the divorce. It gives the family court judge information about your marriage. It tells about your children. It tells exactly what you want from the divorce. It tells why you want the divorce. It tells what day you separated from your husband or wife. You must sign this form in front of a notary public.

(2) Civil case information statement. This form is two pages. It tells the circuit clerk’s office that you are filing for divorce. It tells the clerk whether you have children. It tells how your husband or wife needs to be served with the divorce petition. You need to write down where your husband or wife can be found. You need to write down his or her physical address. If you write down a post office number, that person will have to be served by certified mail.

(3) Vital statistics form. This form is one page and is very short. It is for state records. The clerk’s office will send it to Charleston at the end of your divorce case. It will go to the Office of Vital Statistics. This office also holds all West Virginia birth and death certificates.

(4) Financial statement. This is a long form that describes your income, money, house, debts, and other property. These are things that need to be divided through the divorce. You must sign this form in front of a notary public. You need to list on the financial statement things like:

Your income,
Where you work,
Your furniture,
Your tools or jewelry,
Valuable things that you own,
Your checking accounts,
Your loans,
Your bills,
Your life insurance,
Your credit card balances,
Your children,
Your children’s health insurance,
Information related to asking for alimony from your husband or wife, if you are asking for alimony.

(5) Fee waiver form. This form is three pages. You have to ask for this form. You only fill out this form if you cannot afford to pay for the divorce fees and court fees. You have to list your income and expenses. You must sign this form in front of a notary public. You turn in this form at the time you file for divorce. If you are eligible and the clerk approves the waiver:

You won’t have to pay to file for divorce.
You won’t have to pay to have the sheriff’s office serve your husband or wife with the divorce papers.
You won’t have to pay to take parent education class.
You won’t have to pay for most or all of the court costs.

For more information on asking for a Fee Waiver, go here.

(6) Child support income withholding form. This form is for the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement. It gives them information about you and your husband or wife and your children. It will be sent to the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement. The Bureau for Child Support Enforcement keeps track of child support owed. They also help collect child support.

(7) Parent education registration form. This is required in the divorce for people who have children. This form is to schedule your class. You have to go to one parent education class. The class is required before your first hearing in the divorce case. The parent education class teaches parents how to best help their children deal with the divorce. It also teaches parents how the divorce can affect the children. A judge might not let you have time with your children if you don’t go to your class. You need to go to it before the first hearing.

(8) Parenting plan. This form details your plan for your children. It says when and where your children will spend their time after the divorce. The parenting plan:

  1. Explains how your children’s lives will be handled,
  2. Who will be the children’s primary care giver,
  3. How you will make decisions about the children’s lives.

You and your spouse can actually submit one parenting plan together, if you agree. If you don’t agree, you can each submit one plan. The proposed parenting plan is what you believe is in your children’s best interests.

How many copies do I need of each form that I need to submit to file for divorce?

Divorce petition: Submit one original petition and one copy, to be served upon your husband or wife.

Civil Case Information Statement: Submit one original and two copies.

Vital Statistics Form: Submit one.

Fee Waiver Affidavit: Submit one.

Financial Statement: Submit one original, plus one copy, to be served upon your husband or wife.

Child Support Income Withholding Form: Submit one.

Parent Education Registration Form: Submit one.

Proposed parenting plan: Submit one original, plus one copy to be served upon your spouse.

Of course you will need to make one copy for yourself of everything you file.

View the Divorce Tookit for more information on divorce.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.