Divorce or Annulment
People often wonder whether they can avoid a divorce, and have their marriage annulled instead. However, in Wyoming, annulment is only available for people who entered into a marriage that is either void or voidable, or on the grounds of physical incapacity. If none of the grounds are applicable, then the parties must divorce to end the marriage. Annulment will be discussed in more detail in another post.
Divorce or Legal Separation
People also wonder whether they could get a legal separation instead of a divorce. There is a mechanism for obtaining a legal separation in Wyoming, but the process is very similar to a divorce proceeding. The end result is generally a division and separation of the parties’ property, while keeping the parties legally married. Legal separation will be discussed in more detail in another post.
The State of Wyoming, as all other states, has a residence requirement for persons filing for a divorce. In order to get a divorce in Wyoming, the person filing for divorce must have been a resident of Wyoming for sixty days immediately prior to filing the Complaint for Divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
The grounds for divorce in Wyoming are either irreconcilable differences or insanity. The grounds of insanity are rarely used, as most people can point to some irreconcilable differences. These are commonly things like infidelity, abandonment, abuse, non-support, or incompatibility. Although most judges are not particularly concerned about the actual differences, Wyoming is not a no-fault divorce state, and the judge must find one of the Parties at fault in order to grant the divorce to the other.
Alimony and Property Division
In all Wyoming divorces, the Court must deal with the issues of alimony and marital property division. Alimony is rarely awarded in Wyoming. If one of the spouses needs support and the other is able to pay it, then the Courts prefer to adjust the property division to make that compensation. That is one of the reasons that in Wyoming, the division of marital property is “equitable.” This is a legal term, and it does not necessarily mean equal. The Court considers such factors as the merits of the respective parties and the condition in which they be left after the divorce. Another important consideration is through whom the property was acquired, and the burdens each party is left with, including support of children.
Children of Divorce
In the event that the parties have minor children at the time of the divorce, the Court will also decide the issues of child custody, visitation and child support.
Custody and Visitation
In Wyoming, there is generally a distinction between legal custody and physical custody of the children. Legal custody concerns a parent’s decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child. Physical custody concerns the child’s residence, and is the basis of child support determinations. In general, parents are granted joint legal custody of their children. However, minor children are usually placed in the primary physical custody of one parent, and the other parent is granted reasonable visitation privileges and ordered to pay child support.
Child support is based on the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and on the net income of the parties. Both parties must generally provide health insurance coverage for the minor children, and they must share the out of pocket medical expenses.
In summary, a Wyoming divorce is available to people who meet Wyoming’s residency requirement and also have the necessary grounds for divorce. The divorce process divides the couple’s property and provides for alimony in rare cases. If the divorcing couple are the parents of minor children, the divorce will provide for the legal and physical custody of the children, set out visitation terms, and set child support amounts. Most divorcing couples agree on the terms of their divorce, but if they cannot do so, then the Court will decide these important issues for them.
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By Steve Harton