Wyoming Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Wyoming divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Wyoming.

To file for a divorce in Wyoming, 1) the filing spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 60 days before initiating the action or 2) the marriage must have happened in the state and the filing spouse must have resided there from the time of the marriage until the time of the action.

The grounds for divorce are No-Fault, which means irreconcilable differences. The only other ground is incurable insanity for two years.

The filing spouse is called the Plaintiff; the responding spouse is called the Defendant.

Actions are filed in the District Court, which is the county court.

The grounds for a legal separation are the same as the grounds for a divorce.

When both spouses agree to the divorce, the Plaintiff in a divorce action for a marriage with no children must file the following forms:

> A Vital Statistics Form, DNCP 4, which records the divorce for the stateís records (with the decree section left blank until the Decree is signed by the judge);

> A Complaint for Divorce, DNCP 5, which petitions the court to grant the divorce;

> A Summons in Civil Action, DNCP 6, which informs the Defendant of his or her rights in the action;

> An Affidavit for Divorce Without Appearance of the Parties, DNCP 24, which asks the court to grant the divorce without a hearing;

> A Decree of Divorce, DNCP 26, which is the instrument granting the divorce and which spells out the terms and conditions of the division of assets and liabilities of the marital estate.

The Plaintiff has 90 days after filing the papers with the clerk of the District Court to serve the divorce papers on the spouse. When the spouses agree, the Plaintiff may serve the Defendant himself or herself if he or she signs an Acknowledgement and Acceptance of Service, DNCP 7, in front of a notary, which is in turn filed with the clerk. This route requires that the Plaintiff wait 20 days after presenting the Complaint before presenting the Decree of Divorce to the court for action.

Otherwise, one of these four methods must be used to serve the divorce papers:

> Service by the Wyoming Sheriff, which is done for a fee in the county where the Defendant resides. The sheriff sends back a Return of Service, which is filed with the clerk and certifies that the Defendant has been properly served;

> Service by a Private Party, in which a competent adult who is not party to the action delivers the papers to the Defendant and a Return of Service is filed with the clerk;

> Service by Certified or Registered Mail, which permits the clerk to mail the Complaint and Summons certified or registered mail. This requires that the Plaintiff file with the clerk an Affidavit to Allow Service by Registered or Certified Mail, DNCP 10;

> Service by Publication, which may be used "when the Defendant is a nonresident of the state, or the Defendantís residences cannot be ascertained, or the Defendant keeps concealed to avoid service of the process." Before Service by Publication can be undertaken, however, the Plaintiff must file an Affidavit to Allow Service by Publication, DNCP 10, which details the diligent efforts made to locate the missing party. If the Defendantís address is known, it must be stated in the published notice. Publication must be in a newspaper that has been published for at least a year prior to the first notice, have a paid circulation of at least 500, and each page must be at least 10 inches by 12 and 1/2 inches. The notice must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks. Thirty days after the last date of publication, the Plaintiff must file an Affidavit Following Service by Publication, DNCP 11, which certifies to the court that the notice was published.

If the Defendant is in Wyoming and served in any manner other than by Publication, he or she has 20 days to file an Answer. If he or she is outside of Wyoming or was served by publication, he or she has 30 days to file an Answer. Time limits exclude the first day, Saturdays and Sundays and legal holidays.

If there is no response by deadline, the Plaintiff may file for a default divorce. This requires that the Plaintiff file

> An Application for Entry of Default, DNCP 13, which asks the court to grant the divorce by default;

> An Affidavit of Plaintiff in Support of Default, DNCP 14, which supports the Plaintiffís allegations that default is justified.

Some Wyoming counties will not enter a Default Divorce Decree unless there is a hearing. In those counties, the Plaintiff must file a Motion to Set Hearing/Trial, DNCP 23. At this hearing, the Plaintiff must attest that he or she has lived in Wyoming at least 60 days prior to filing the Complaint for Divorce. At this hearing, he or she must present a Decree of Divorce, DNCP 26.

When both parties agree on all issues, both the spouses sign the Decree of Divorce and both normally appear at a short hearing.

When couples do not agree on all issues, the Defendant may file an Answer and Counterclaim, DNCP 5, which disagrees with allegations and requests in the Complaint. The Plaintiff has 20 days to file a Reply to the Counterclaim, DNCP 12. Failure to do so means the Defendant can seek a default divorce against the Plaintiff and may get what he or she wants as spelled out in the Counterclaim. An Answer and Counterclaim may be a preliminary to a contested divorce. Judges, however, may order that the parties appear before a mediator, a neutral third-party who will attempt to resolve the issues.

Many of the forms used in a divorce with minor children are the same as those used in a divorce without children. Service must be made in the same way, too.

When divorcing couples with children are in agreement, they must file a Vital Statistics Form, DWCP 4, Complaint for Divorce (with Children), DWCP 5 and a Summons in a Civil Action, DWCP 6. In addition, they must also file the following:

> A Confidential Financial Affidavit, DWCP 12, which must be completed by each spouse and which profiles incomes and expenses of each and provides information about the minor children of the marriage;

> An Order Requiring Completion of Financial Affidavits, DWCP 13, which requires that each party provide financial information (W-2s and pay stubs) for the last two years;

> An Income Withholding Order, DWCP 20, which stipulates the amount and the terms and conditions of child support;

> Notice to Payor, DWCP 21, which orders the payorís employer to deduct and forward to the Wyoming Disbursement Unit child and spousal support and medical insurance payments;

> Affidavit for Divorce Without Appearance of Parties, DWCP 31, which is used when the parties have reached an agreement and both have signed the Decree of Divorce;

> A Confidential Statement of Parties for Child Support Order, DWCP 33, which provides confidential information necessary to comply with the Child Support Enforcement Act.

> A Decree of Divorce with Minor Children, DWCP 34, which is the instrument of the divorce and is signed by both spouses and details the terms and conditions of the parenting plan, spousal and child support, visitation.

> A Certificate of Mailing Decree of Divorce, DWCP 37, which certifies the mailing of the divorce decree.

The protocols for default and a contested divorce that apply to a marriage without children also apply to a marriage with children.