If you decide to end your marriage, there are certain issues that have to be settled. For example, if you and your spouse have children, you’ll have to decide how much time each parent is going to spend with them and how much child support has to be paid. You’ll also have to divide your property and debts.
In order to start the divorce process, you’ll need to complete some forms. You can obtain the all forms you'll need online, from the Wyoming Judicial Branch's family law pro se forms section. "Pro se" just means that you'll be representing yourself. Even though the forms have been issued by the Wyoming Judicial Branch, it's a good idea to double-check with your local court to make sure the judges there will accept the forms and that they are still current.
Be thorough and complete in responding to the questions. Fill out the forms on a computer if you can. If you aren't able to use a computer, write or print neatly and legibly.
The pro se divorce forms are divided into different packets. The kind of packet you will download depends on your individual situation:
When you’re ready, make two copies of the documents and hold onto the original. Go to your county courthouse and ask to file the documents. It's important to go to the courthouse in the county where you or your spouse reside, because your case will be handled by the district court there.
The clerk of court will stamp the documents with the date they were filed and return the copies to you. If you are the plaintiff, the clerk will also sign the summons.
You’ll need to pay a fee unless you complete two forms: an Affidavit of Indigency and a Request for Waiver of Filing Fees (both forms are located in Packet 10) and the court agrees that the fee should be waived because you can’t afford it. If the court approves your affidavit and request, it will issue a signed order and send it to you in the mail.
Assemble a packet for your spouse that includes everything you filed, plus the summons. Serve your spouse as soon as possible after leaving.
When you’ve prepared and filed your forms, you should immediately serve your spouse with the documents. Service of process is very important in the American legal system because it ensures that everyone has notice about what’s going on and an opportunity to “appear,” or argue, their point of view. Service of process ensures that no one is ever “ambushed” in a courtroom.
If your spouse is an adult who is pro se, then you should serve your spouse directly at the location at your spouse’s home address. If your spouse has retained a lawyer, serve the lawyer at the lawyer’s office and don’t send copies to your spouse.
If you're the plaintiff and you're serving the Summons and Complaint that's included in some of the divorce packets, special service rules apply. There are two options. First, you can serve the summons and complaint by having the Sheriff give it to the defendant. Second, you can give them to 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.
Different rules may apply if you are trying to serve someone in the military, out-of-state, in jail, or impossible to locate. Check with the clerk of court for more information in these unusual situations, because it may be possible to serve your spouse by publication (meaning, published notice in newspapers).
Wyoming law says that when a divorce case begins, the spouses have to disclose certain information to each other within thirty days after the defendant is served with the plaintiff's divorce papers. The defendant must send its own disclosure within thirty days after being served with the plaintiff's disclosure.
The initial disclosure should include a list of jointly held and individual assets and debts, the location of all safety deposit boxes, income and retirement data, and facts about employment and wages. If child custody is an issue, then your disclosure must also explain why you think you should have custody.
There's one exception to this rule. If you and your spouse already agree to all terms of your divorce and are ready to sign the divorce decree, you don't have to worry about disclosures.
In addition to the initial disclosure, both spouses have to complete a Confidential Financial Affidavit and file it with the court. This affidavit (also known as a sworn statement) contains even more details about your financial circumstances. You may have to attach additional documents to it, such as tax returns and pay stubs.
See out page on Wyoming Divorce and Family Laws for more information on the divorce process and the legal issues you'll need to consider.
Consult the Wyoming District Court Directory to find the location of your courthouse, by county, and the name of the clerk of court. You can call the courthouse for more information. The clerks who work there can't give you legal advice or fill out forms for you, but they can explain certain processes and procedures.
The Wyoming Center for Legal Aid was created in 2011 and has a helpful website with information geared to self-represented people in divorce cases.
Legal Aid of Wyoming runs a statewide legal aid hotline, which you can call at 1-877-432-9955. The hotline takes calls Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for free legal help. You can also consult this resource page for more legal advice and representation.