WEST VIRGINIA JUDICIARY
MENTAL HYGIENE AND GUARDIANS
- If you have been appointed a guardian or conservator, select the tab labeled “Training” to complete your required online training or click here to obtain a printable copy of the training manual.
- If you are an attorney with questions on how to get paid for your appointment in a guardian/conservator case, select the tab labeled “Attorney Payments.”
- If you wish to file a petition for appointment of a guardian or conservator, use the petition and the physician or psychologist evaluation report forms. You must file these completed documents at the office of the circuit clerk in the county in which the individual needing a guardian or conservator resides, or the county where the individual is admitted to a health care or correctional facility. For a missing person you must file in the county where the individual last resided. There is a filing fee. You may represent yourself, but an attorney is recommended.
- These actions have specific notice of hearing service requirements for the person filing the action, including personal service and certified mail service. Select the tab labeled “Hearing Notice” for a summary.
Circuit courts have jurisdiction over guardianship/conservatorship cases. Hearings may be held by mental hygiene commissioners as finders of fact for the circuit court in all cases except missing person cases. Commissioners file findings of fact and recommendations with the circuit judge based on the evidence presented at a hearing, and the circuit judge makes the final decision as to appointment.
Procedures for filing and appointments can be found in the West Virginia Code Chapter 44A, Articles 1 through 5. The West Virginia Code is available at the State Law Library at the State Capitol in Charleston, East Wing, Fourth Floor, or online at the West Virginia Legislature website, under the tab “State Law."
MENTAL HYGIENE/INVOLUNTARY HOSPITALIZATION
- If you wish to file an application for involuntary hospitalization, use the general application form. Any adult person may file a general application form. There are special requirements and forms for incarcerated individuals and minors. You must have your signature notarized/sworn to under oath. You must file the application in the county where the person to be examined (called the respondent) is a resident or is currently to be found. During business hours, you file the application at the office of the circuit clerk at the courthouse or judicial annex. After business hours, you will need to contact the local mental health center serving the area for assistance, or the county sheriff’s office, or in some regions 911 emergency services. These agencies are familiar with the mental hygiene process and will be able to advise you how to file after hours in emergency circumstances.
- Special rules apply to minors; for more information, select the tab labeled “Treatment of Minors.”
- If you are an attorney with questions on how to get paid for your appointment to represent a respondent in a mental hygiene case, select the tab labeled “Attorney Payments”.
Circuit judges have jurisdiction over mental hygiene cases (also called involuntary hospitalization or commitment), but may appoint attorneys as mental hygiene commissioners or designate magistrates to preside in these cases. Mental hygiene commissioners and designated magistrates have authority to enter probable cause orders. Circuit judges must enter final commitment orders, although the hearings may be held by mental hygiene commissioners.
More information on mental hygiene matters can be found in West Virginia Code Chapter 27, Articles 1, 4, and 5. The West Virginia Code may be found online at the West Virginia Legislature website, under the tab “State Law” or by visiting the State Law Library in Charleston, West Virginia.