Many people may have heard of an 'uncontested divorce' but few people actually understand fully what that means or how it works. In short, an uncontested divorce is a tool for couples to agree on simple terms that will apply to the divorce process. Not only is it simpler and less burdensome than a normal divorce proceeding, it is also less expensive in most cases.
This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Wyoming uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Wyoming Defined
Unlike many other states, Wyoming does not specifically have a uncontested divorce law. Divorce in Wyoming is treated as a civil lawsuit, which means that like any other civil filing, the spouse seeking a divorce must file a civil complaint in Wyoming district court and serve divorce papers on the non-filing spouse.
While the filing of a complaint and service of process look adversarial in nature, that is simply Wyoming procedure, an uncontested divorce is still possible. In Wyoming, an uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. This is most commonly accomplished by the signing of a legal separation agreement. When a divorce is uncontested, the Wyoming divorce process will move much more quickly and cost-effectively.
Requirements for Seeking a Wyoming Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Wyoming, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Wyoming divorce attorney or family lawyer.
The first requirement is Wyoming’s state residency statute. No Wyoming court will grant a divorce unless one of the spouses has lived in the state of Wyoming for at least sixty days, or roughly two months. Only one of the spouses needs to reside in Wyoming for the court to agree to hear the divorce complaint.
The second requirement for filing for an uncontested divorce in Wyoming is an agreement between the spouses that grounds for a divorce exist. Unlike many other states that have both at-fault and no-fault grounds for divorce, Wyoming only has one ground for divorce. The spouses simply must agree that irreconcilable differences arose during the marriage and that the spouses simply cannot resolve their problems without divorce.
The final requirement for seeking an uncontested divorce in Wyoming is agreement between the spouses on the terms of the divorce. Under Wyoming law, the judge must rule on each aspect of a divorce. If the spouses do not agree on every aspect, the divorce is considered contested and the spouses will need to litigate their disagreement in court. The simplest way to file for an uncontested divorce in Wyoming is by submitting a legally binding separation agreement to the court.
On Spousal Support and Separation Agreements
When spouses sit down to discuss the terms of their divorce, it is often beneficial for the spouses to sign a legal separation agreement. A separation agreement is NOT a formal divorce. A separation agreement is a contract between spouses that lays out their agreement and terms of their separation. A fully completed separation agreement can serve as the basis for an uncontested divorce, and may be helpful in filling out the required divorce paperwork. Prior to signing any separation agreement (or any contract with your spouse), you should have an experienced attorney review the terms of the contract for you.
The spouses must agree on each of the following issues for a divorce filing to be considered truly uncontested:
- Division of marital assets and property (includes real estate, joint bank accounts, personal property, right to own family pets, etc.);
- Payment of marital debts;
- Amount of spousal support, also known as alimony;
- Tax deductions and exemptions;
- Child custody and visitation arrangements; and
- Amount of child support payments
A quick note on child support agreements: Wyoming courts will consider any agreement between the parties regarding child support payments, but Wyoming courts may reject any child support agreement that does not fall within Wyoming’s presumed child support guidelines.1 If a separation agreement fails to meet the minimum limits for presumed child support, the judge may reject the agreement and require the couple to start over from the beginning.
The Process for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce in Wyoming
The first step toward filing for an uncontested divorce in Wyoming is knowing which court to file divorce paperwork in. The filing spouse must file divorce paperwork in the District Court of the county in which that spouse resides.
Once you have determined which court is the proper court for filing, the general flow of the process is follows:
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly;
- Fill out all of the required divorce paperwork. Fortunately, the Wyoming judicial branch’s website provides an extensive list of online documents for couples seeking to fill out their own divorce paperwork. If you have any questions about which forms you need to file, ask the staff at your local courthouse for assistance. While courthouse staff cannot provide legal advice, they can tell you generally which forms are required2;
- Discuss the divorce paperwork with your spouse and agree on the terms of a separation agreement;
- Next, the filing spouse must file the divorce paperwork in the appropriate court and serve his or her spouse with divorce papers;
- If a couple is filing for an uncontested divorce with children, the couple must also file a financial affidavit to accompany any agreement for child support;
- Under Wyoming law, spouses must wait at least twenty days after filing for divorce before the divorce can be finalized. In an uncontested divorce circumstance, it should not take much longer than the statutorily required 20-day period;
- Once the court sets a hearing date, the spouses may or may not be called to a hearing (under Wyoming law, judges are allowed to approve the divorce without calling the spouses to court, but not all judges do). If you are called to a hearing, you must appear before the judge to approve your divorce settlement;
- If there are no issues with your divorce filing, a judge will finalize your divorce.
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.
- Wyoming Statutes § 20-2-307.
- Court Self-Help Forms, WYOMING JUDICIAL BRANCH, https://www.courts.state.wy.us/legal-assistances-and-forms/court-self-he....