Alimony is an integral part of the divorce process in Wyoming. Here’s critical information you need to know if you’re facing this issue.
- Who is Entitled to Alimony in Wyoming?
- Types of Alimony in Wyoming
- What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?
- Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in Wyoming
- Enforcing Wyoming Alimony Awards
- Spousal Support and Taxes
- Wyoming Alimony FAQs
Who is Entitled to Alimony in Wyoming?
Alimony, spousal maintenance, and spousal support are used interchangeably in Wyoming.
Alimony is not automatically awarded after divorce. You and your spouse will go through a “determination of support” process to establish whether the court should award alimony payments.
An award starts with one spouse demonstrating a need for alimony and the other spouse having the ability to pay. Alimony is often awarded to help the lower-earning spouse maintain the marital standard of living.
Payments are made from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse for a specified period.
Types of Alimony in Wyoming
Either spouse can rеԛuеѕt alimony when filing for divorce in Wyoming. Yоu саn еvеn ask fоr maintenance tо hеlр уоu cover divorce attorney fees, regardless of whether you are the defendant or plaintiff.
Wyoming judges can order the following types of alimony in a divorce:
Temporary alimony. During a lengthy divorce which can take months or even years to finalize, a financially dependent spouse can request temporary support to help meet financial obligations. Temporary support ends when the divorce is final. Some other form of alimony may replace it, or a judge may decide that alimony is not warranted.
Short-term support. For some spouses, this type of alimony is necessary to help a lower-earning spouse adjust to a new, post-divorce standard of living.
If a spouse has marketable job skills or education and can find employment, a judge may order short-term support to help the recipient get until the spouse becomes self-supporting.
Compensatory alimony. If one spouse has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, career, or earning ability of the other spouse, a judge has the power to award compensatory support.
Rehabilitative alimony. This is the most common type of alimony in Wyoming and is awarded to spouses who can become self-supporting but need time and financial help to acquire the education or skills necessary to find employment. The goal is to give enough time to a spouse so that they can become financially independent.
Permanent alimony. In some cases, a spouse cannot become financially independent due to advanced age, declining health, or other similar reasons. Judges typically award permanent support only in extreme circumstances and long-term marriages.
A paying spouse may be required to honor their alimony obligation by making monthly, quarterly, or a lump sum payment. Lump-sum payments can be one payment or several installments for many years.
Spouses can also decide alimony on their own. Many prefer this to going to court because it gives them more control, and they know their finances better than the court.
Often, a mediator will help spouses reach an alimony agreement which must still be reviewed and approved by the court.
Read More: The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children (and How to Help Them Cope)
What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?
The Wyoming statute that addresses alimony is somewhat vague regarding alimony award factors. Courts can award alimony based on a spouse’s demonstrated need and the other spouse’s ability to pay. The only other criterion is that the alimony must be “reasonable.”
The statute doesn’t provide any other specific factors for a judge to use. There are also no predetermined formulas.
As a result, Wyoming courts have broad discretion when deciding the amount and duration of alimony.
Courts usually defer to factors commonly used to make alimony determinations. These factors often include:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of each party
- The total gross income of both spouses
- The earning ability of both spouses
- Monetary and non-monetary contributions by each spouse to the marriage
- The existence of rental properties or other investments
- Child custodial status and the amount of child support paid
- Other factors the court deems relevant
A judge will not consider disability benefits to a veteran spouse for service-connected disabilities or award any other income and property of the veteran to their current or former spouse as compensation.
If thе spouse wіth сuѕtоdу оf minor children can’t support themselves duе to the сhіldrеn bеіng of аn аgе or соndіtіоn that hіndеrѕ this parent’s аbіlіtу to support thеm іt would directly impact thе саѕе.
Tо ѕаtіѕfу an award, a judge can оrdеr alimony payments аѕ раrt оf thе dіѕtrіbutіоn оf property which may include a spouse’ѕ individual rеаl еѕtаtе properties, rents, profits, or other іnсоmе.
Read More: Home and Mortgage in Divorce: The Definitive Guide
Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in Wyoming
Modifying alimony can occur if either party proves there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last order. This may be due to an extended illness, the onset of a disability, job loss, retirement, or another similar life event.
To modify an existing order, the court will hold a special hearing to review evidence being used as the basis for a modification request.
The paying spouse will be required to continue paying as per the existing order until the matter is determined in court. Otherwise, the court could find the spouse guilty of contempt, request a show cause hearing, issue fines, or sentence the spouse to jail.
Couples who independently formulate an alimony settlement agreement that is not originally approved by the court do not have recourse to later request a court-based modification.
Spousal support terminates when either spouse dies.
Unlike many other states, Wyoming doesn’t automatically terminate alimony after the recipient spouse remarries. The paying spouse has to request the court to review the terms of alimony and prove that a substantial change accompanies the remarriage, such as the recipient spouse being financially stable.
Cohabitation can result in the termination or reduction of alimony as well.
Wyoming divorce law states that after an ex-spouse reaches retirement age, that person is not obliged to continue paying spousal support. But you may not be exempted from paying support if the divorce happened during retirement. The court will consider your retirement income in determining alimony instead of your income while employed.
Enforcing Wyoming Alimony Awards
When an ex-spouse does not pay alimony promptly, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears.
Alimony awards are court orders, and when the order is not followed, the receiving spouse and court can employ several measures to bring the debt current. This make take place through mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment.
Failure to comply with a court-issued alimony order can also result in a contempt of court charge leading to fines, payment of additional court costs, and in rare cases, jail time.
Spousal Support and Taxes
Due to recent changes in Federal laws, the payer cannot deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments under a divorce or separation instrument executed after 2018. These payments are also not included as taxable income for the receiving spouse.
The same is true of alimony paid under a divorce or separation instrument executed before 2019 and modified after 2018 if the modification expressly states that the alimony isn’t deductible to the payor spouse or included in the income of the recipient spouse.
Taxpayers paying alimony under a divorce agreement executed before 2019 can deduct those payments from taxes when the following criteria are met:
- The recipient must be a spouse or former spouse
- There must be a written divorce or separation instrument
- Alimony must be made with cash payments (such as checks and money orders)
- Maintenance does not continue after the recipient dies
- The parties must live apart, residing in different households
- The parties must file separate tax returns (they cannot file a joint return and claim the alimony deduction)
- The court-ordered payment of alimony cannot state that payments are not deductible
Read More: How Retirement Accounts and Pensions are Divided in a Divorce
Wyoming Alimony FAQs
Is marital fault used to determine alimony awards in Wyoming?
Wyoming is a “no-fault” state, and that means the state doesn’t permit divorce based on a spouse’s behavior, such as abuse, cheating, drug use, or felonies. Since fault doesn’t hold ground in a Wyoming divorce court, it can’t be used as an argument for alimony. However, since judges have broad discretion in determining alimony, a court may decide to include it as a factor when reaching an award decision.
Can alimony be waived by a prenuptial agreement?
Yes, it’s possible to waive alimony in a prenuptial agreement. If the prenuptial agreement is considered valid and enforceable, a judge will honor the terms of the prenuptial agreement.
Is gender considered when awarding alimony?
Spousal support is gender neutral (i.e., gender is not a factor). Both men and women have the right to request and receive alimony.