Divorces are often portrayed as highly contested and conflict-ridden. While this can be the case, sometimes spouses are able to agree on the material issues, which can help the process move forward smoothly. Divorcing couples in Wyoming might be able to obtain a divorce decree without going to court if the proper paperwork is filed and they can find common ground. To avoid delays, it is important to understand residency requirements and other procedures. While the judge looks favorably on settlement agreements, knowing what the law requires can ensure that you are prepared if the court schedules a hearing.
To obtain a divorce in Wyoming, the person filing the complaint for divorce, also known as the Plaintiff, must have lived in the state for a period of at least 60 days prior to filing. As an alternative, if the parties were married in the state but have not lived in Wyoming for 60 days, the residency requirement may be fulfilled if either person lived in the state from the date of marriage up to the date of filing the complaint. While the law provides that the filing party can request a legal separation instead of divorce, a divorce can be granted without legal separation.
Starting the Process
A divorce in Wyoming begins with the filing of a Complaint for Divorce with the Clerk of the District Court in the county where either spouse resides. Along with the complaint, the court requires a vital statistics form, summons and payment of the filing fee. Information that needs to be in the complaint includes the full names and residences of both spouses, whether the couple has any minor children, and an acknowledgment that irreconcilable differences exist between the parties. Both spouses must also make certain disclosures regarding property and other finances for the purposes of division. Any settlement agreement regarding these issues should be included as part of the complaint and will become part of the divorce decree, if approved.
Once the plaintiff has filed the appropriate paperwork, it must be served on the other spouse to ensure proper notice of the divorce. Service is accomplished in Wyoming by sheriff or having the receiving party sign an Acknowledgment and Acceptance of Service form. Following service, the respondent has 20 days to respond with an Answer if present in the state, or 30 days if living outside of the state. If the respondent fails to file an Answer, the filing party can ask for a default divorce by filing an Application for Entry of Default and Affidavit of Plaintiff in Support of Default. However, the judge may still schedule a hearing before entering a default divorce decree.
Finalizing the Divorce
If both parties can reach agreement on the material terms of the divorce, including custody and care of minor children and distribution of assets, they may file an Affidavit for Divorce without Appearance of Parties. After review, the court will decide whether to grant the divorce or proceed to a hearing. If the court schedules a hearing, the court will ask questions related to how long the parties have lived in the state and why they believe that irreconcilable differences exist in the marriage. The judge may also ask questions related to any minor children, property and finances.