One of the major benefits to a marriage is the sharing of property and expenses. When a couple gets divorced, a Wyoming judge has the difficult task of ensuring that the marital assets are divided fairly. The court must also decide if alimony is appropriate and determine child support. Each party should supply accurate financial information to the court to ensure fair property division and support determinations.
A couple is required to submit financial information as part of every divorce action in Wyoming by the filing of a Confidential Financial Affidavit. The affidavit requests specific information about each spouse's job, wages, and income from other sources, such as Social Security. Each spouse should also supply supporting documentation, including pay stubs and tax returns, as well as receipts and expenses if a spouse is self-employed, to verify all information. This information helps a court determine and calculate both child support and spousal support. If one spouse does not submit his financial information, the court will base its determinations on information supplied by the other spouse, which may or may not be accurate.
Courts in Wyoming divide property equitably between the parties. "Equitable" does not mean, "equal;" instead, the process of equitable distribution used in Wyoming refers to a fair and just division of assets. The court considers a list of factors, including the merits and financial state of each spouse following the divorce, which spouse acquired particular property as well as the burden of maintaining property for the benefit of a spouse or children.
Wyoming courts must decide whether to award alimony to one spouse. There is no set formula to determine alimony; it is based on one spouse's need and the other spouse's ability to pay. The duration of alimony can be either temporary or permanent. There are three types of support generally awarded in Wyoming: transitional support, compensatory support and spousal maintenance. Transitional support involves temporary payments to help a spouse obtain an education or training to re-enter the job market. Compensatory support is temporary as well, awarded to repay a spouse for her contribution to the education, career, or earning ability of the other spouse. The court can also award spousal maintenance so that the receiving spouse can maintain the standard of living she enjoyed during the marriage. This type of maintenance can be either permanent or ordered for a specific period of time. It typically terminates when the receiving spouse remarries.
There are several support guideline models used by the states in calculating child support. Wyoming uses the income shares method to determine child support, which means that the level of support is determined by the income of both parents. Typically, the noncustodial parent makes payments to the custodial parent, since the custodial parent likely incurs most of the day-to-day costs for the child's living essentials, like food. To determine the child support obligation, both parents’ net incomes are entered into a table, which factors in the number of children for whom the parents share legal responsibility. The child support obligation is divided between the parents in proportion to the net income of each. For example, if the total of the net incomes of the parents is $100,000 and the paying spouse’s income accounts for $75,000 of the $100,000, he is responsible for paying 75 percent of the support. When determining support, the court also considers the actual custodial arrangement including how many nights the child spends with each parent, as well as the cost of day care, the health and education needs of the child and any other factors it deems relevant. An on-going child support obligation terminates when the parents remarry each other, the child dies, the child legally emancipates, which can occur if the child marries or enters the military, or the child attains the age of majority, which is 18. To terminate child support when the child reaches the age of majority, the paying parent must file a petition to terminate child support and other paperwork with the district court – and serve those papers on the custodial parent.
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