Firm-Wide blog

When Divorce Gets Ugly

By Burg Simpson
May 8, 2018
3 min read

Divorce is rarely a simple process. All too often, it is the end result of months – if not years – of trauma and conflict. Wyoming continues to have one of the highest divorce rates in the country, well above the national average. At 4.1 divorces for every 1,000 people, the state’s tied for the fourth-highest.

As difficult and time-consuming as it can be, things can quickly turn tragic, especially when one spouse breaks the law in an attempt to reassert control of a deteriorating relationship. In 2014, for example, Wyoming law enforcement received nearly 2,600 reports of domestic violence. Keep in mind that experts estimate that most incidents – up to 70 percent – of domestic violence go unreported. If you are trying to get out of a marriage that has turned violent, a family law attorney can help make sure your rights are protected.

Domestic Assault in Wyoming

Nationally, one in three women and one in four men have suffered physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner at some point in their lives. In Wyoming, domestic assault is an unlawful attempt by one household member to cause bodily injury to another household member. Household members don’t necessarily have to be spouses. It can include intimate partners, other family members, children, and other cohabitants.

These incidents of abuse can be physical, sexual, economic, emotional, or psychological. It also can include verbal threats, stalking, and cyberstalking.

A successful conviction can result in a six-month prison sentence as well as a $750 fine.

Stalking in Wyoming

More than 20 percent of women in Wyoming have reported being stalked at some point in their lifetime. Wyoming law defines “stalking” as a course of conduct that is meant to harass another person. Harassment can take many forms, such as “verbal threats, written threats, lewd or obscene statements or images, vandalism or nonconsensual physical contact, directed at a specific person or the family of a specific person, which the defendant knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and which does in fact seriously alarm the person toward whom it is directed.”

Additionally, that course of conduct can include:

  • Communicating, anonymously or otherwise, or causing communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses;
  • Following a person, other than within the residence of the defendant;
  • Placing a person under surveillance by remaining present outside his or her school, place of employment, vehicle, other place occupied by the person, or residence other than the residence of the defendant; or
  • Otherwise engaging in a course of conduct that harasses another person.

Stalking is a misdemeanor in Wyoming, with convictions subject to a prison sentence of up to six months as well as a fine of up to $750. However, under certain circumstances, it can be elevated to a felony, which can carry a 10-year jail sentence.

If you are struggling with a divorce, get help immediately. Contact the family law office of Burg Simpson Wyoming today by calling 307-527-7891 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form so we can help.

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