When spouses divorce in Wyoming, they remain responsible for providing financial support for their children. To clarify each parent’s responsibilities, Wyoming courts enter child support orders as part of the terms of a divorce decree. Parents must comply with these orders or face significant penalties for nonpayment. However, if circumstances change, courts can modify the support order.
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Calculating Child Support
In Wyoming, both parents support their children, but the noncustodial parent typically pays child support to the custodial parent. The support to be paid is expressed in a court order as a specific dollar amount. Support is calculated by considering the combined income of both spouses then applying that number to child support tables established by Wyoming statute to come up with the total support obligation owed by both parents based on the number of children to be supported. The court divides the total support obligation between the spouses in accordance with each spouse’s proportion of their combined income. For example, if the noncustodial parent earns 75 percent of the combined income, she is expected to pay 75 percent of the total support obligation.
Paying Child Support
Noncustodial parents in Wyoming pay child support through the State Child Support Disbursement Unit, whose sole role is to receive and distribute child support payments. Courts typically order child support amounts to be withheld from the paying parent’s paycheck; employers then send that money to the State Disbursement Unit for distribution to the custodial parent. If a noncustodial parent does not have a job or does not make enough money to have support withheld from his income, he can send payments directly to the State Disbursement Unit for distribution to his ex-spouse.
If a parent does not pay child support as ordered, his ex-spouse may pursue various enforcement methods to encourage him to pay support. In addition to using the court system, the receiving parent may also apply to the Wyoming Child Support Enforcement Division for help collecting support. Child Support Enforcement has a range of options to choose from, including wage garnishment and interception of tax refunds. They can also suspend the noncustodial parent’s driver’s license, hunting and fishing licenses and professional licenses if he fails to pay support.
When a family’s circumstances change, either parent may need to modify the child support order. In Wyoming, a parent must prove that one of three conditions exists before the court will modify a support order. If the court issued the previous support order at least six months ago, it can modify the order if the modification would change the amount of support by at least 20 percent. A parent can also qualify for modification if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, such as custody modifications. The court will also review and modify a child support order every three years if a parent requests modification.