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Wyoming Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a divorce in Wyoming, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
No divorce shall be granted unless the plaintiff has resided in this state for sixty (60) days immediately preceding the time of filing the complaint, or the marriage was solemnized in this state and the plaintiff has resided in this state from the time of the marriage until the filing of the complaint. A married person who at the time of filing a complaint for divorce resides in this state is a resident although his spouse may reside elsewhere. A divorce may be filed in the district court of the county in which either party resides. (Wyoming Statutes - Title 20 - Chapters: 20-2-104, 20-2-107 and 20-2-108)
Grounds for Filing:The Complaint for Divorce must declare the appropriate Wyoming grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The divorce grounds are as follows:
A divorce may be decreed by the district court on the following grounds :
Irreconcilable differences in the marital relationship.
Incurably insane and the insane person has been confined in a mental hospital of this state or of another state or territory for at least two (2) years immediately preceding the commencement of the action for divorce. (Wyoming Statutes - Title 20 - Chapters: 20-2-104, 20-2-105)
Filing Spouse Title:Plaintiff. The Plaintiff is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Defendant. The Defendant is the spouse who does not file the initial divorce papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:In the District Court in and for __________ County, Wyoming. This is the Wyoming court where the divorce will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a divorce according to Wyoming law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Marital Settlement Agreement, Financial Affidavit, Affidavit Concerning the Children, Request for Setting, Notice of Setting, and Certificate of Mailing.
Court Clerk's Title:District Clerk's Office. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Since Wyoming is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.
In granting a divorce, the court shall make such disposition of the property of the parties as appears just and equitable considering the following factors: 1. Having regard for the respective merits of the parties and the condition in which they will be left by the divorce 2. The party through whom the property was acquired and the burdens imposed upon the property for the benefit of either party and children. (Wyoming Statutes - Title 20 - Chapters: 20-2-114)
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
The court may decree to either party reasonable alimony out of the estate of the other having regard for the other's ability to pay and may order so much of the other's real estate or the rents and profits thereof as is necessary be assigned and set out to either party for life, or may decree a specific sum be paid by either party. (Wyoming Statutes - Title 20 - Chapters: 20-2-114)
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a divorce, the Wyoming courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
In determining a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child, the court shall consider, but is not limited to, the following factors: (i) The quality of the relationship each child has with each parent; (ii) The ability of each parent to provide adequate care for each child throughout each period of responsibility, including arranging for each child's care by others as needed; (iii) The relative competency and fitness of each parent; (iv) Each parent's willingness to accept all responsibilities of parenting, including a willingness to accept care for each child at specified times and to relinquish care to the other parent at specified times; (v) How the parents and each child can best maintain and strengthen a relationship with each other; (vi) How the parents and each child interact and communicate with each other and how such interaction and communication may be improved; (vii) The ability and willingness of each parent to allow the other to provide care without intrusion, respect the other parent's rights and responsibilities, including the right to privacy; (viii) Geographic distance between the parents' residences; (ix) The current physical and mental ability of each parent to care for each child; (x) Any other factors the court deems necessary and relevant. (Wyoming Statutes - Title 20 - Chapters: 20-2-104, 20-2-107 and 20-2-201)
Child Support:Wyoming child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.
When the parents can not agree on an appropriate child support obligation the court will apply the state support guidelines by using the support worksheet. If it is deemed appropriate the court may deviate from this support amount by considering the following deviation factors:
In determining whether to deviate from the presumptive child support established by W.S. 20-2-304, the court shall consider the following factors: (i) The age of the child; (ii) The cost of necessary child day care; (iii) Any special health care and educational needs of the child; (iv) The responsibility of either parent for the support of other children, whether court ordered or otherwise; (v) The value of services contributed by either parent; (vi) Any expenses reasonably related to the mother's pregnancy and confinement for that child, if the parents were never married or if the parents were divorced prior to the birth of the child; (vii) The cost of transportation of the child to and from visitation; (viii) The ability of either or both parents to furnish health, dental and vision insurance through employment benefits; (ix) The amount of time the child spends with each parent; (x) Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child; (xi) Whether either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In such case the child support shall be computed based upon the potential earning capacity (imputed income) of the unemployed or underemployed parent. (Wyoming Statutes - Title 20 - Chapters: 20-2-104, 20-2-107 and 20-2-303 through 20-2-308)
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If the parties cannot agree on the issue of child support, the court will impose guidelines pursuant to the state's Income Shares Model. The judge may deviate from the established model in order to consider special needs of the child, the ability of each parent to provide medical insurance coverage, and whether either parent has responsibilities for the support of other children. The court can also impose more subjective criteria such as the value of the services provided by each parent, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the potential earning capacity of each parent regardless of their employment status.
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