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Judicial Separation

Student Legal Services - ASUW

Judicial Separation

Besides a decree of nullity, there is a second type of judicially declared decree that can affect a marriage. This is a decree of judicial separation. Wyoming Statute §20-2-106 says that "[w]hen circumstances are such that grounds for a divorce exist, the aggrieved party may institute a proceeding by complaint in the same manner as if petitioner were seeking a decree of divorce, but praying instead to be allowed to live separate and apart from the offending party". The same law goes on to say "[t]he court may make such orders as appear just, including custody of the children, provision for support, disposition of the properties of the parties, alimony, restraint of one or both spouses during litigation and restraint of disposition of property. The court may impose a time limitation on the order or render a perpetual separation. The parties may at any time move the court to be discharged from the order." A decree of judicial separation, then, can be very similar to a divorce decree, but the parties remain technically man and wife.

Some people believe there is also something called a "legal separation." There is no such thing in the State of Wyoming other than the just described proceeding for a judicially declared separation. Spouses can always agree between themselves in regard to who will pay what bills, who is going to be allowed to keep the computer if they separate, etc., but what these types of agreements really are are contracts between husband and wife and not "legal separation" documents.

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