Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage and the ending of all associated legal duties. In the process, the issues of child custody, support, and property distribution are settled.
If you cannot resolve the problems within the marriage, divorce is an option you may wish to consider. Divorce is unlike a separation where parties legally agree to live apart but do not get an official divorce. An annulment is also a way to end some marriages, but it is a legal remedy that voids the marriage as if it never occurred.
To start the divorce process, the plaintiff must file a petition for divorce in the correct jurisdiction. Typically the jurisdiction is the district court where either you or your spouse lives within the state. A filing fee applies. The petition and summons is then served on your spouse, the defendant. The defendant answers the complaint and acknowledges service. Divorce documents, forms, and instructions can be found at the website for the Wyoming Judicial Branch.
As the case progresses, you and your spouse will complete disclosures. These pretrial disclosures, such as your financial affidavits, will be shared with the opposing party. The defendant in the divorce may counterclaim if he does not agree to the terms or facts of the divorce. A counterclaim can complicate matters because contested divorces often take longer and cost more than uncontested divorces where all sides are in agreement.
At any time during the divorce process, the defendant and plaintiff may settle the case. Sometimes a third party, like a mediator, can be helpful in this process. If an agreement is made that is satisfactory to both parties, you can avoid court time and costs. Most cases end up being settled in this fashion.
During the divorce many common issues arise. Sometimes your attorney will ask the court for orders on your behalf. These orders help decide how certain matters will be handled prior to divorce. Often, pretrial orders include payment of household expenses, childcare, healthcare, orders for protection, and more.
If you and your spouse have children, custody arrangements must first be agreed upon in a parenting agreement. If you cannot agree, you may need to go to trial for custody. You must also take a parenting class and present the certificate of completion before being allowed to divorce.
Property and debt allocations must be decided. Every state handles this aspect of divorce differently. In Wyoming, marital property and debts are divided based on equitable distribution, which is a fair, but not necessarily, equal division of property.
Some, but not all, courts in Wyoming require you to have a hearing before a judge before the final decree of divorce is signed. The clerk of the court can alert you to this fact, if it applies. You must request a date for the court to hold this hearing and personally attend, if required.
If the divorce is going to trial, the trial proceeds on the assigned date. The plaintiff and the defendant, or their attorneys, will make their opening statements. Witnesses are heard, evidence is shared, and the information gathered from discovery will be shared. The judge deliberates and makes a final judgment. Once the judgment is made and the divorce decree is filed, you are officially divorced. Alimony may be set at this time.
Is an Attorney Required?
You can get a divorce without representation by an attorney. It should be noted that divorce is tremendously stressful and dealing with the legal process, paperwork, and complicated divorce law can make a tough time feel nearly impossible. A divorce attorney can be helpful in easing the stress and confusion.