Contrary to popular belief, filing for divorce doesn't always have to mirror a TV drama. Although divorce is never easy, some can be relatively quick and mostly drama-free. For couples that can negotiate and cooperate to work through the issues of their divorce, an uncontested divorce is a great option.
This article provides a general overview of an uncontested divorce in Wyoming. If, after reading this article, you still have questions on how to file for divorce (uncontested or contested) in Wyoming, you should contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Unlike a "traditional" contested divorce, which often requires court intervention to resolve property, custody, and support issues, in an "uncontested divorce," the spouses agree on all major issues in the divorce and simply want to move on. Couples with or without minor children can file for an uncontested divorce in Wyoming.
In most cases, an uncontested divorce is much faster and much less expensive than a contested divorce. Also, these simplified or summary divorces can save spouses the anxiety and stress associated with going to trial.
However, with an uncontested divorce, the spouses must agree on every issue in the divorce, including child custody and child support if children are involved. For more information on calculating child support for divorce purposes in Wyoming, visit the Equal Justice Wyoming (EJW) Child Support Help page.
The following is a list of significant issues that you and your spouse must agree on before filing an uncontested divorce action in Wyoming:
If you are unable to agree with your spouse on any of the above issues, the court will deem your divorce as "contested," and you will need to proceed to trial to have a judge decide your case.
Wyoming has an instructive website to assist spouses who want to file for divorce on their own through Legal Aid of Wyoming. However, before commencing the divorce process, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least 60 days. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-107 (a).) If you are a Wyoming resident, your spouse does not need to reside in the state for you to obtain a Wyoming divorce. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-170 (b).)
If you decide to file for divorce on your own, you will be responsible for filing the correct forms with the right court. District courts in Wyoming oversee divorce proceedings. Each of Wyoming's 23 counties has at least one district court, and those courts are organized into 9 judicial districts. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 5-3-101.)
Typically, you will file your divorce paperwork in the district court located in the county in which you reside. If you and your spouse have separated and reside in different counties, either county's district court would be acceptable to file your divorce paperwork. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-104.)
The Wyoming Judicial Branch maintains a comprehensive website with forms needed to complete an uncontested divorce found here or available in hard copy at the local district courthouse. Although Wyoming court clerks are unable to provide you legal advice, Wyoming's Judicial Branch website offers a checklist and specific instructions to walk individuals through the uncontested divorce process.
In Wyoming, unlike some other states, the court doesn't accept joint divorce petitions, even for uncontested divorces. Instead, the spouse who prepares and files the initial paperwork, the "plaintiff," must file the following documents with the court and properly serve them on their spouse before the court grants the divorce:
Some courts require additional forms to file for divorce properly. It is best to check with your local court clerk to verify that you submitted everything your county requires.
Once you have filed the proper forms with the district court, the judge may or may not require a hearing on your case. Hearing requirements vary from county to county, so be sure to check with your court clerk to determine whether you need to schedule time in front of the judge.
If the court requires you to attend a hearing, it will likely be relatively short and straightforward; you will only need to confirm that you have lived in Wyoming for at least 60 days and that your marriage is damaged beyond repair (irreconcilable differences). Lastly, you must explain the settlement agreement that you and your spouse submitted.
If at least 20 days have passed since you filed for divorce and there are no issues with your paperwork, a judge will sign the Decree of Divorce, and the divorce will become final. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-108.)
If you have additional questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce in Wyoming, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance. For more information on uncontested divorces in Wyoming, see Wyoming Statutes, Title 20, Chapter 2, Article 1.