Firm-Wide blog

What You Need to Know About Divorce and Child Custody in Wyoming

By Burg Simpson
May 31, 2018
5 min read

Wyoming is a study in contrasts when it comes to love and marriage. On one hand, its residents are in love with being in love – they get married sooner, about two years younger than the national average. Wyoming has the third highest married population in the country – trailing only Idaho and Utah – at 55.9 percent. In fact, Wyoming has one of the lowest national rates of residents who have never been married.

On the other hand, Wyoming also has a higher-than-average rate of divorce – 12.4 percent – and the sixth highest rate of people who have been married three or more times. If your marriage has fallen apart, you should not navigate the divorce process on your own. An experienced family divorce lawyer can help make sure your rights are protected.

The Basics of Getting a Divorce in Wyoming

Wyoming is a no-fault divorce state, which simply means that the plaintiff does not have to give a reason for the divorce or establish that someone was at fault. The only at-fault cause accepted in Wyoming is if one of the spouses in “incurably insane,” and has been institutionalized for at least two years before the divorce filing.

Additionally, the plaintiff has to establish that the marriage was valid to begin with, that neither party was already married at the time of the wedding, and that there was no other obstacle to the marriage.

Finally, to file for divorce in Wyoming, you must have been a resident for 60 days, which is actually one of the shorter residency requirements in the country.

Divorces Can Get Difficult Quickly

As straightforward as all of this sounds, things can become complicated very fast, especially when there are a lot of assets involved in the marriage.

Normally, Wyoming law gives the divorcing parties a chance to settle any debts or assets on their own and submit it to the court in a signed Marital Settlement Agreement. But that rarely happens, especially, in high-asset divorce cases.

Wyoming is a “just and equitable distribution” state, so when the parties reach an impasse when it comes to dividing a marital estate, the court will step in. Just and Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, but what the court decides is fair. In doing so, the court will:

  • Initiate a discovery process to identify the assets and debts that can be reasonably classified as marital.
  • Then assign a monetary value to those assets and debts.
  • Finally, distribute the marital assets between the two parties in what it decides to be an equitable fashion.

In a high-asset divorce, this process can be quite expensive and time-consuming, especially when complicated retirement and savings accounts are involved, which require the help of financial planners, accountants, or tax professionals.

Mistakes to Avoid

It can be incredibly tempting to rush through a divorce “just to get it over with,” or because of the guilt that can weigh heavily on either party. But those are just a couple of the frequent mistakes the parties involved in a high-asset divorce can make. Others include:

  • Concealing assets
  • Overlooking liabilities
  • Neglecting tax implications

Child Custody

Nothing is more important that our children and child custody can be a major component of a divorce action.  Here is what Wyoming law says about what the Judges need to consider in custody matters.

§ 20-2-201.  Disposition and maintenance of children in decree or order; access to records.

(a)In granting a divorce, separation or annulment of a marriage or upon the establishment of paternity pursuant to W.S. 14-2-401 through 14-2-907, the court may make by decree or order any disposition of the children that appears most expedient and in the best interests of the children. In determining the best interests of the child, the court shall consider, but is not limited to, the following factors:

(i) The quality of the relationship each child has with each parent;

(ii) The ability of each parent to provide adequate care for each child throughout each period of responsibility, including arranging for each child’s care by others as needed;

(iii) The relative competency and fitness of each parent;

(iv) Each parent’s willingness to accept all responsibilities of parenting, including a willingness to accept care for each child at specified times and to relinquish care to the other parent at specified times;

(v) How the parents and each child can best maintain and strengthen a relationship with each other;

(vi) How the parents and each child interact and communicate with each other and how such interaction and communication may be improved;

(vii) The ability and willingness of each parent to allow the other to provide care without intrusion, respect the other parent’s rights and responsibilities, including the right to privacy;

(viii) Geographic distance between the parents’ residences;

(ix) The current physical and mental ability of each parent to care for each child;

(x) Any other factors the court deems necessary and relevant.

Few things are as heartbreaking and stressful as getting a divorce. Lives are upended and tensions often run high. Do not make things worse by trying to handle everything by yourselves, no matter how amicable it might seem in the beginning. Get professional assistance from the Wyoming family law lawyers at Burg Simpson’s Wyoming office. Call us at 307-527-7891 or complete our Free Case Evaluation Form Here before you agree to anything.

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