If you don’t get proper notice you can argue, potentially, that what had happened to you in court should be totally thrown out. There’s a difference between the kind of notice that you’re entitled to whenever something is first filed and the kind of notice that you’re genuinely entitled to for anything that happens after the initial filing is made. When the initial filing is made, what happens is, you have a right to be notified by several ways.
Number one is being served in person. That means somebody actually handing some documents to you. What that person will do is, they’ll go and they will swear under oath that you actually received the papers in your hand. That’s one way. The other way under West Virginia law is certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery, which means that you sign for the documents. It’s in the mail and you actually signed for the documents. That’s the other way that you can be properly served in West Virginia.
Now, if the person has made a reasonable effort to try to find you and they can’t find you for some reason and it happens sometimes, they can actually serve you by there being a publication in the newspaper. What happens then is, it’s placed in the newspaper. If you’ve gone through a newspaper, you might even see notices that are actually in the newspaper, they’re in the legal part of the newspaper and says, “Such and such should be made aware that there’s an action pending in the blank County of West Virginia.” You might have seen that before. That’s the other way that you can be served in West Virginia for the initial filings.
After that, it’s perfectly fine for things to be sent out in the mail once you’ve been served. So it’s really, really important that you make everybody aware as to what your address is once you’ve been given the initial papers. If you’re representing yourself, what I often times will recommend is that people make calls to the courthouse to make sure that you’ve got the notice. For example, if a notice went out in the mail and you didn’t get it, you might be out of luck depending on who the judge is and how much of a break they’re willing to give you. These are some basics on notice in West Virginia divorces. There’s actually a lot more to it, but these are some of the basics about how the notice process works in a West Virginia divorce.