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West Virginia

JURISDICTIONAL END OF MARRIAGE DATE: Date of Filing Complaint for Divorce. If there is no Complaint Date use current date.

STATE TYPE FOR PENSION EVALUATION: West Virginia is an "equitable distribution" state, generally meaning that all marital property acquired during the marriage is subject to division. Property brought into the marriage or property that a person had before the marriage is not subject to division in a divorce. To prove that you had property that should be considered non-marital property you need to show that you either owned it before marriage, it was a gift to you from someone besides your spouse and was only meant for you, and that you inherited it. The court will determine what is non-marital property before proceeding with the case.

[West Virginia Code; Sections 48-5-604 to 48-5-612 and 48-7-101 to 48-7-112].



W. Va. Code'48-1-203

Antenuptial or prenuptial agreement defined.

"Antenuptial agreement" or "prenuptial agreement" means an agreement between a man and woman before marriage, but in contemplation and generally in consideration of marriage, by which the property rights and interests of the prospective husband and wife, or both of them, are determined, or where property is secured to either or both of them, to their separate estate, or to their children or other persons. An antenuptial agreement may include provisions that define the respective property rights of the parties during the marriage, or upon the death of either or both of the parties. The agreement may provide for the disposition of marital property upon an annulment of the marriage or a divorce or separation of the parties. A prenuptial agreement is void if at the time it is made either of the parties is a minor.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-1-233

Marital property defined.

"Marital property" means:

(1) All property and earnings acquired by either spouse during a marriage, including every valuable right and interest, corporeal or incorporeal, tangible or intangible, real or personal, regardless of the form of ownership, whether legal or beneficial, whether individually held, held in trust by a third party, or whether held by the parties to the marriage in some form of co-ownership such as joint tenancy or tenancy in common, joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, or any other form of shared ownership recognized in other jurisdictions without this state, except that marital property does not include separate property as defined in section 1-238 [' 48-1-238]; and

(2) The amount of any increase in value in the separate property of either of the parties to a marriage, which increase results from: (A) an expenditure of funds which are marital property, including an expenditure of such funds which reduces indebtedness against separate property, extinguishes liens, or otherwise increases the net value of separate property; or (B) work performed by either or both of the parties during the marriage.

The definition of "marital property" contained in this section has no application outside of the provisions of this article, and the common law as to the ownership of the respective property and earnings of a husband and wife, as altered by the provisions of article 29 ['' 48-29-101 et seq.] of this chapter and other provisions of this code, are not abrogated by implication or otherwise, except as expressly provided for by the provisions of this article as such provisions are applied in actions brought under this article or for the enforcement of rights under this article.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-1-237

Separate property defined.

"Separate property" means.

(1) Property acquired by a person before marriage;

(2) Property acquired by a person during marriage in exchange for separate property which was acquired before the marriage;

(3) Property acquired by a person during marriage, but excluded from treatment as marital property by a valid agreement of the parties entered into before or during the marriage;

(4) Property acquired by a party during marriage by gift, bequest, devise, descent or distribution;

(5) Property acquired by a party during a marriage but after the separation of the parties and before ordering an annulment, divorce or separate maintenance; or (6) Any increase in the value of separate property as defined in subdivision (1), (2), (3), (4) or (5) of this section which is due to inflation or to a change in market value resulting from conditions outside the control of the parties.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-5-706

Revision of order concerning distribution of marital property.

In modifying a final divorce order, the court may, when other means are not conveniently available, alter any prior order of the court with respect to the distribution of marital property, if:

(1) The property is still held by the parties;

(2) The alteration of the prior order as it relates the distribution of marital property is necessary to give effect to a modification of spousal support, child support or child custody; or

(3) The alteration of the prior order as it relates the distribution of marital property is necessary to avoid an inequitable or unjust result which would be caused by the manner in which the modification will affect the prior distribution of marital property.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-6-101

Property settlement or separation agreement defined.

(a) "Property settlement or separation agreement" means a written agreement between a husband and wife whereby they agree to live separate and apart from each other. A separation agreement may also:

(1) Settle the property rights of the parties;

(2) Provide for child support;

(3) Provide for the allocation of custodial responsibility and the determination of decision-making responsibility for the children of the parties;

(4) Provide for the payment or waiver of spousal support by either party; or

(5) Otherwise settle and compromise issues arising from the marital rights and obligations of the parties.

(b) To the extent that an antenuptial agreement affects the property rights of the parties or the disposition of property after an annulment of the marriage or after a divorce or separation of the parties, the antenuptial agreement is a separation agreement.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-6-201

Effect of separation agreement.

(a) In cases where the parties to an action commenced under the provisions of this chapter have executed a separation agreement, if the court finds that the agreement is fair and reasonable, and not obtained by fraud, duress or other unconscionable conduct by one of the parties, and further finds that the parties, through the separation agreement, have expressed themselves in terms which, if incorporated into a judicial order, would be enforceable by a court in future proceedings, then the court shall conform the relief which it is authorized to order under the provisions of parts 5 and 6, article 5 of this chapter to the separation agreement of the parties. The separation agreement may contractually fix the division of property between the parties and may determine whether spousal support shall be awarded, whether an award of spousal support, other than an award of rehabilitative spousal support or spousal support in gross, may be reduced or terminated because a de facto marriage exists between the spousal support payee and another person, whether a court shall have continuing jurisdiction over the amount of a spousal support award so as to increase or decrease the amount of spousal support to be paid, whether spousal support shall be awarded as a lump sum settlement in lieu of periodic payments, whether spousal support shall continue beyond the death of the payor party or the remarriage of the payee party, or whether the spousal support award shall be enforceable by contempt proceedings or other judicial remedies aside from contractual remedies.

(b) Any award of periodic payments of spousal support shall be deemed to be judicially decreed and subject to subsequent modification unless there is some explicit, well expressed, clear, plain and unambiguous provision to the contrary set forth in the court-approved separation agreement or the order granting the divorce. Child support shall, under all circumstances, always be subject to continuing judicial modification.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-7-101

Equal division of marital property.

Except as otherwise provided in this section, upon every judgment of annulment, divorce or separation, the court shall divide the marital property of the parties equally between the parties.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-7-102

Division of marital property in accordance with a separation agreement.

In cases where the parties to an action commenced under the provisions of this chapter have executed a separation agreement, then the court shall divide the marital property in accordance with the terms of the agreement, unless the court finds:

(1) That the agreement was obtained by fraud, duress or other unconscionable conduct by one of the parties; or

(2) That the parties, in the separation agreement, have not expressed themselves in terms which, if incorporated into a judicial order, would be enforceable by a court in future proceedings; or

(3) That the agreement, viewed in the context of the actual contributions of the respective parties to the net value of the marital property of the parties, is so inequitable as to defeat the purposes of this section, and such agreement was inequitable at the time the same was executed.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-7-103

Division of marital property without a valid agreement.

In the absence of a valid agreement, the court shall presume that all marital property is to be divided equally between the parties, but may alter this distribution, without regard to any attribution of fault to either party which may be alleged or proved in the course of the action, after a consideration of the following:

(1) The extent to which each party has contributed to the acquisition, preservation and maintenance, or increase in value of marital property by monetary contributions, including, but not limited to:

(A) Employment income and other earnings; and

(B) Funds which are separate property.

(2) The extent to which each party has contributed to the acquisition, preservation and maintenance or increase in value of marital property by nonmonetary contributions, including, but not limited to:

(A) Homemaker services;

(B) Child care services;

(C) Labor performed without compensation, or for less than adequate compensation, in a family business or other business entity in which one or both of the parties has an interest;

(D) Labor performed in the actual maintenance or improvement of tangible marital property; and

(E) Labor performed in the management or investment of assets which are marital property.

(3) The extent to which each party expended his or her efforts during the marriage in a manner which limited or decreased such party's income-earning ability or increased the income-earning ability of the other party, including, but not limited to:

(A) Direct or indirect contributions by either party to the education or training of the other party which has increased the income-earning ability of such other party; and

(B) Foregoing by either party of employment or other income-earning activity through an understanding of the parties or at the insistence of the other party.

(4) The extent to which each party, during the marriage, may have conducted himself or herself so as to dissipate or depreciate the value of the marital property of the parties: Provided, That except for a consideration of the economic consequences of conduct as provided for in this subdivision, fault or marital misconduct shall not be considered by the court in determining the proper distribution of marital property.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-7-104

Determination of worth of marital property.

After considering the factors set forth in section 7-103 [' 48-7-103], the court shall:

(1) Determine the net value of all marital property of the parties as of the date of the separation of the parties or as of such later date determined by the court to be more appropriate for attaining an equitable result. Where the value of the marital property portion of a spouse's entitlement to future payments can be determined at the time of entering a final order in a domestic relations action, the court may include it in reckoning the worth of the marital property assigned to each spouse. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, when the value of the future payments is not known at the time of entering a final order in a domestic relations action, if their receipt is contingent on future events or not reasonably assured, or if for other reasons it is not equitable under the circumstances to include their value in the property assigned at the time of dissolution, the court may decline to do so; and

(A) Fix the spouses' respective shares in such future payments if and when received; or

(B) If it is not possible and practical to fix their share at the time of entering a final order in a domestic relations action, reserve jurisdiction to make an appropriate order at the earliest practical date;

If a valuation is made after a contingent or other future fee has been earned through the personal services or skills of a spouse, the portion that is marital property shall be in the same proportion to the total fee that the personal services or skills expended before the separation of the parties bears to the total personal skills or services expended. The provisions of this subdivision apply to pending cases when the issues of contingent fees or future earned fees have not been finally adjudicated.

(2) Designate the property which constitutes marital property, and define the interest therein to which each party is entitled and the value of their respective interest therein. In the case of an action wherein there is no agreement between the parties and the relief demanded requires the court to consider such factors as are described in subdivisions (1), (2), (3) and (4), section 7-103 [' 48-7-103], if a consideration of factors only under said subdivisions (1) and (2) would result in an unequal division of marital property, and if an examination of the factors described in said subdivisions (3) and (4) produce a finding that a party: (A) Expended his or her efforts during the marriage in a manner which limited or decreased such party's income-earning ability or increased the income-earning ability of the other party; or (B) conducted himself or herself so as to dissipate or depreciate the value of the marital property of the parties, then the court may, in the absence of a fair and just spousal support award under the provisions of section 5-602 [' 48-5-602] which adequately takes into account the facts which underlie the factors described in subdivisions (3) and (4), section 7-103 [' 48-7-103], equitably adjust the definition of the parties' interest in marital property, increasing the interest in marital property of a party adversely affected by the factors considered under said subdivisions who would otherwise be awarded less than one half of the marital property, to an interest not to exceed one half of the marital property;

(3) Designate the property which constitutes separate property of the respective parties or the separate property of their children;

(4) Determine the extent to which marital property is susceptible to division in accordance with the findings of the court as to the respective interests of the parties therein;

(5) In the case of any property which is not susceptible to division, ascertain the projected results of a sale of such property;

(6) Ascertain the projected effect of a division or transfer of ownership of income-producing property, in terms of the possible pecuniary loss to the parties or other persons which may result from an impairment of the property's capacity to generate earnings; and

(7) Transfer title to such component parts of the marital property as may be necessary to achieve an equitable distribution of the marital property. To make such equitable distribution, the court may:

(A) Direct either party to transfer their interest in specific property to the other party;

(B) Permit either party to purchase from the other party their interest in specific property;

(C) Direct either party to pay a sum of money to the other party in lieu of transferring specific property or an interest therein, if necessary to adjust the equities and rights of the parties, which sum may be paid in installments or otherwise, as the court may direct;

(D) Direct a party' to transfer his or her property to the other party in substitution for property of the other party of equal value which the transferor is permitted to retain and assume ownership of or

(E) Order a sale of specific property and an appropriate division of the net proceeds of such sale: Provided, That such sale may be by private sale, or through an agent or by judicial sale, whichever would facilitate a sale within a reasonable time at a fair price.

W. VA. CODE ' 48-7-105

Transfers of property to achieve equitable distribution of marital property.

In order to achieve the equitable distribution of marital property, the court shall, unless the parties otherwise agree, order, when necessary, the transfer of legal title to any property of the parties, giving preference to effecting equitable distribution through periodic or lump sum payments: Provided, That the court may order the transfer of legal title to motor vehicles, household goods and the former marital domicile without regard to such preference where the court determines it to be necessary or convenient. In any case involving the equitable distribution of: (1) Property acquired by bequest, devise, descent, distribution or gift; or (2) ownership interests in a business entity, the court shall, unless the parties otherwise agree, give preference to the retention of the ownership interests in such property. In the case of such business interests, the court shall give preference to the party having the closer involvement, larger ownership interest or greater dependency upon the business entity for income or other resources required to meet responsibilities imposed under this article, and shall also consider the effects of transfer or retention in terms of which alternative will best serve to preserve the value of the business entity or protect the business entity from undue hardship or from interference caused by one of the parties or by the divorce, annulment or decree of separate maintenance: Provided, however That the court may, unless the parties otherwise agree, sever the business relationship of the parties and order the transfer of legal title to ownership interests in the business entity from one party to the other, without regard to the limitations on the transfer of title to such property otherwise provided in this subsection, if such transfer is required to achieve the other purposes of this article: Provided further, That in all such cases the court shall order, or the agreement of the parties shall provide for, equitable payment or transfer of legal title to other property, of fair value in money or moneys' worth, in lieu of any ownership interests in a business entity which are ordered to be transferred under this subsection: And provided further, That the court may order the transfer of such business interests to a third party (such as the business entity itself or another principal in the business entity) where the interests of the parties under this article can be protected and at least one party consents thereto.

W. Va. Code ' 48-7-106

Findings; rationale for division of property.

In any order which divides or transfers the title to any property, determines the ownership or value of any property, designates the specific property to which any party is entitled or grants any monetary award, the court shall set out in detail its findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the reasons for dividing the property in the manner adopted.

W. Va. Code ' 48-29-202

Presumption of gift in certain transactions between husband and wife.

Where one spouse purchases real or personal property and pays for the real or personal property, but takes title in the name of the other spouse, the transaction, in the absence of evidence of a contrary intention, is presumed to be a gift by the spouse so purchasing to the spouse in whose name the title is taken: Provided, That in the case of an action under the provisions of article seven ['' 48-7-101 et seq.] of this chapter wherein the court is required to determine what property of the parties constitutes marital property and equitably divide the same, the presumption created by this section does not apply, and a gift between spouses must be affirmatively proved.

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