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Student Legal Services - ASUW

Untying the Knot - Divorce

Divorce in Wyoming is still an adversarial proceeding. By that, it is meant that one spouse must still sue the other spouse for a divorce and the divorce itself is "awarded" to one of the parties. Therefore, the spouse who wants to initiate the divorce is called the plaintiff and files the action in the District Court against the other spouse who is called the defendant. The defendant must be served with notice that the plaintiff has filed a divorce and after service, he or she has a right to respond to the divorce action and can, in fact, countersue the plaintiff for divorce. When the defendant files a counterclaim for divorce against the plaintiff, the lawsuit then becomes a "contested" divorce.

Wyoming Statute §20-2-107 says "No divorce shall be granted unless the plaintiff has resided in this state for sixty (60) days immediately preceding the time of filing the complaint, or the marriage was solemnized in this state and the plaintiff has resided in this state from the time of the marriage until the filing of the complaint". The plaintiff's spouse does not have to live in Wyoming in order for the plaintiff to file a complaint for divorce.

The plaintiff must allege the grounds for divorce in the divorce complaint. Wyoming Statute §20-3-104 states "A divorce may be decreed by the district court of the county in which either party resides on the complaint of the aggrieved party on the grounds of irreconcilable differences in the marital relationship". The plaintiff must, therefore, allege that he or she is "aggrieved" and that irreconcilable differences exist between plaintiff and defendant. It is not necessary to state specific facts that have led the plaintiff to file for divorce.

Although, as stated above, the defendant spouse can "contest" the divorce, it is more usual that the parties settle all issues in regard to the divorce between themselves before the matter is scheduled to go to trial. In fact, some divorces are fairly friendly in nature and in those cases getting a divorce in Wyoming is reasonably simple. Although it is always recommended that divorce litigants each retain his and her own attorney if the parties cannot agree on all issues that are important to them (especially child custody issues), it is possible to "do your own divorce" in Wyoming.

Historically "doing your own divorce" in Wyoming has met with mixed success in some Wyoming courts until fairly recently. The Wyoming Supreme Court has repeatedly said that pro se (Latin, "for himself", i.e., one who is representing himself) litigants should be held to the same standards as are attorneys. This created sometimes insurmountable obstacles for some pro se divorce parties whose paperwork might not have been perfect. In recognition of the obstacles pro se litigants were facing as well as the fact that many of those attempting to "do their own divorces" were not financially able to hire attorneys to do it for them, then Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court Larry Lehman appointed a committee in early 2001 to study the issues of citizens access to Wyoming courts. This committee was named the Citizens Access to Courts Committee (CACC). At the first meeting of the committee it was decided that the development of pro se divorce packets and guidance in the distribution and use of these form packets would be goals of the committee.

These goals have been met by the CACC and six packets of forms have been drafted and approved for use by the Board of Judicial Policy and Administration, the body having superintending power over the Wyoming Supreme Court.

The six form packets are the following:

  1. Divorce with No Children - Plaintiff
  2. Divorce with No Children - Defendant
  3. Divorce with Children - Plaintiff
  4. Divorce with Children - Defendant
  5. Child Support and Modification
  6. Child Custody and Modification

These six form packets are available to anyone by accessing the website of the Wyoming Judicial Branch. The web address to access the forms is The forms are free. The packets are currently also available in every District Court Clerk's office in Wyoming. In Laramie, the Clerk's office is located in the Albany County Courthouse. Each packet costs $10.00. Remember that the clerks of court are not lawyers and they cannot and will not give you legal advice about filing the forms. Therefore, if you purchase the forms they are provided for your convenience and cannot guarantee that you will succeed in your divorce action. They are intended to give you basic instructions and guidelines.

If you qualify for the services of Student Legal Services and have questions about divorce in Wyoming, or if you have obtained the Wyoming pro se divorce forms and have questions about them or about how to fill them out, please contact the Student Legal Services office. Remember, because of the adversarial nature of the divorce process in Wyoming, if both you and your spouse qualify for the services of Student Legal Services, the attorney cannot advise one of you against the other because that is a conflict of interest prohibited by the rules that govern the practice of law in this state.

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Julianne Gern

1000 E. University Ave

Knight Hall 128

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-3296


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