Divorce – State FAQ – Wyoming
Residency requirements, venue and procedures
Q: How long must I have lived in Wyoming prior to filing for divorce in an Wyoming court?
A: Wyoming law requires that the party seeking the divorce must have resided in Wyoming for a minimum of sixty (60) days prior to the filing of the complaint, or that the marriage was solemnized in Wyoming and the party seeking the divorce has resided in Wyoming since the time of marriage to the filing of the complaint.
Q: What are the terms used to identify the parties in a divorce proceeding?
A: The party filing the action is called the Plaintiff, while the other party to the divorce is referred to as the Defendant.
Q: What is the title of the document initiating the action for divorce? The order granting the divorce?
A: The title of the document initiating the divorce proceeding is a Complaint for Divorce, while the title of the order granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce.
Q: Are there any waiting periods associated with a divorce action?
A: Wyoming law requires that no decree of divorce may be final unless and until twenty (20) days have elapsed from the time of the filing of the complaint.
Grounds for Divorce
Q: What is meant by “grounds for divorce”?
A: A “ground” for divorce is a “reason” for divorce. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exist in Wyoming. You must use one or more of these reasons to justify your divorce.
Q: What are the recognized grounds for divorce in Wyoming?
A: Wyoming law permits divorces based upon irreconcilable differences (no-fault)and upon either spouse being confined to mental institution for two years because of incurable insanity.
Q: What does the term “spousal support” (or, “alimony”) mean?
A: “Spousal support” (sometimes called “alimony”) is money paid by one spouse to the other due to the payee spouse’s loss of the benefit of the payor spouse’s income due to the divorce.
Q: Is spousal support available while the divorce is pending in court, or only after the divorce has become final?
A: The court may order that one spouse support the other during the pendancy of the divorce action and/or after the divorce has become final. Support awarded pending the final decree of divorce is not to extend beyond the period of time necessary for the prosecution of the divorce action.
Q: What factors will the court consider when determining how much alimony to award to a party?
A: Wyoming law permits the courts to require one party to a divorce action to pay any sum necessary for the support of the other party during the pendency of the action. Wyoming also permits the courts to order that either party must provide alimony to the other spouse after the marriage is terminated, taking into consideration such factors as the respective merit of each party and how each party will be left by the divorce. After a decree ordering alimony has been issued, the court may from time to time revisit the issue and revise the decree upon petition to the court.
Q: On what basis does the court decide how marital property is divided?
A: Wyoming is a so-called “equitable distribution” state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. The court has wide discretion in equitably distributing property.
Q: Is the “separate property” of one spouse subject to being divided up?
A: The question here is whether property “belonging to” one of the parties should be included in the marital estate for purposes of an equitable division. Generally, separate property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage may be excluded from the marital estate if neither the property nor its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage.
Q: What if the parties occasionally use an item of separate property (for example, silver table utensils inherited by the wife) for the benefit of both parties?
A: The property may be subject to division. Where the parties regularly use property acquired by one party before marriage for the common benefit of the parties, it is more likely to be available for consideration in dividing property. The frequency of use may be considered by the court in making the decision.
Child custody and visitation
Q: What is child custody and visitation?
A: “Child custody” refers to which parent will have legal custody of the child(ren), i.e. with whom the child(ren) will live. “Visitation” is the topic of the non custodial parent’s ability to visit/spend time with the child(ren).
Q: If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation issues, on what basis will the court decide?
A: If there are children of the marriage, the court, in granting the decree of divorce, may make any order regarding the custody of the children that is in their best interests. Factors the court may consider in reaching a determination of best interests of the child include such things as the quality of relationship each child has with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide care and support for the children, etc. The court shall not consider the gender of the parents when reaching a determination of custody.
Q: Must a primary custodian give the non custodial parent notice before he or she moves either out of town or state with the child?
A: Yes. The primary custodian must give the non custodial parent, as well as the district court clerk, 30 (thirty) days written notice prior to the move.
Q: Can grandparents be awarded visitation rights in Wyoming?
A: Yes. Grandparents may be granted visitation rights provided it is within the best interests of the child to do so, and the parent’s rights are not substantially impaired.
Q: What is “child support”?
A: Child support is money paid by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to meet the needs of the child(ren).
Q: To what should the parties look for guidance regarding amount of child support to be paid? What standard will the court use if the parties cannot agree?
A: Wyoming has child support tables which establish the presumptive amount of child support to be paid, which is presumed to be the correct amount. Every order establishing child support must set forth the presumptive amount and state whether that amount is departed from in the decree. The court may only deviate from the presumptive amount upon a specific finding that the presumptive amount would be unjust or inappropriate, and the court’s reasons for so deviating shall be specifically set forth.
Q: Will the courts of Wyoming require health insurance for the minor children, in a divorce order?
A: Yes. The courts of Wyoming that either one or both of the parents must show written proof that the minor children of the marriage be covered under their insurance policies. In addition, the order may also include a requirement that the parents split the differences of all medical fees, not covered by insurance.