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Wyoming Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers
The Wyoming Judicial Branch's family law pro se forms section makes it easy for a party to file pro se, which means that he or she represents himself or herself and files without a lawyer.
The Wyoming Judicial Branch's family law pro se forms section forms is divided into different packets. The kind of packet downloaded depends on the individual situation:
Regardless of whether a party is the plaintiff or defendant or has minor children, everyone should read Packet 10, which contains a set of miscellaneous forms, which may be needed. For example, if a party can't afford to pay court filing fees, Packet 10 has the paperwork needed to ask a judge to waive them.
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
The plaintiff makes two copies of the divorce documents and files them with the clerk of the court in the district courthouse in the county where either spouse resides.
The clerk of court time and date stamps the documents and returns the copies to the plaintiff. The clerk signs the summons for the plaintiff.
Indigent plaintiffs can file an Affidavit of Indigency and a Request for Waiver of Filing Fees. Both forms are located in Packet 10. If the court agrees that the fee should be waived because the plaintiff cannot afford them, the plaintiff files without paying. If the court approves the affidavit and request, the court issues an order and mails it to the plaintiff.
Serving the Documents
The plaintiff assembles a packet for the other spouse that includes everything already filed, plus the summons, and serves the defendant as soon as possible after leaving.
Service of process ensures that everyone has notice of the action and can present his or her case in court.
A pro se filer can be served at home. A party with a lawyer can be served at the attorney’s office.
The plaintiff can serve the summons and complaint by having the county sheriff give it to the defendant. The plaintiff can also serve the defendant, but only if the defendant completes a form called An Acknowledgement and Acceptance of Service.
Most all other documents can be served by first class mail or hand delivery.
The clerk of court has information on service of process when a party is in the military, out-of-state, in jail, or impossible to locate, and different routines apply in these situations. Missing spouses may be served by publication of a notice in a newspaper.
Disclosing Financial Information
Spouses have to disclose certain information to each other within 30 days after the defendant receives the plaintiff's divorce papers.
The disclosure identifies jointly held and individual assets and debts, safety deposit boxes, income and retirement data, and facts about employment and wages.
The disclosure explains any claims to child custody when the spouses are not in agreement. However, when the spouses agree about the terms and conditions of the divorce and are ready to sign the divorce decree, no initial disclosure is required.
In addition to the initial disclosure, both spouses later complete a Confidential Financial Affidavit and file it with the court. This affidavit contains more details about the spouses’ financial circumstances and may have attachments, such as tax returns and pay stubs.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on the terms and conditions of the divorce because they simply want to move on. Uncontested divorces happen with or without children; they cost less and move faster than contested actions, which can end with an exhausting and bankrupting court battle. Simplified or summary divorces reduce the anxiety and stress associated a court battle or even lengthy wrangling with a spouse. However, major issues that must be resolved include child custody and visitation arrangements if minor children are involved; child support, health and dental insurance coverage; division of assets and debts; spousal support or alimony, if any, and any other issues related to the marriage.
Finalizing the Divorce
Once the proper forms have been filed with the district court, the judge may or may nor want to hold a hearing to review the terms and conditions of the divorce and the settlement.
If there are no issues with the paperwork, a judge will sign the Decree of Divorce and the divorce will become final.
In Wyoming a divorce requires at least 20 days after the defendant has been served.
Wyoming is an "equitable distribution state," which means if the parties cannot mutually agree, marital property is divided according to what the court deems to be fair. Under Wyoming law, equitable is not the same as equal. Factors that determine equity include the respective merits of each spouse, the ensuing financial position of the respective spouse as a result of the divorce, and property ownership.
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