Here’s what you need to know if you’re facing a child support issue in Wyoming.
- Who Must Pay Child Support in Wyoming?
- How is Child Support Determined in Wyoming?
- Which Agency Handles Child Support in Wyoming?
- How Do I Ask for Child Support?
- Factors that May Impact Child Support in Wyoming
- Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
- Establishing Paternity in Wyoming
- Enforcing Wyoming Child Support Orders
- Modifying Wyoming Child Support Payments
- Child Support and Taxes
- When Does Child Support End in Wyoming?
Who Must Pay Child Support in Wyoming?
Both parents are required to provide financial support for their minor children in Wyoming.
There are no income limits or eligibility requirements to receive help from the Wyoming Child Support Program. The following persons can request child support services to ensure the state accounts for a child’s best interests.
- Any parent or legal caretaker who wants to establish a child support order
- Any parent or legal caretaker who wants to establish paternity of their child
- Any parent or legal caretaker who is owed child support
- Any parent or legal caretaker who is ordered to pay child support or owes past due child support
How is Child Support Determined in Wyoming?
Child support is based on statewide Wyoming Child Support Guidelines that consider the parents’ incomes, other children the parents have to support, custody and visitation schedules, and other costs associated with caring for a child.
Each parent must submit a Confidential Financial Affidavit, pay stubs, employer statements, and a copy of their last two years’ income tax returns.
Go to the Wyoming Judicial Branch website for child support forms, including a Net Income Calculation Worksheet for Child Support.
You can also use the Wyoming Child Support Calculator to estimate a child support obligation.
In some circumstances, parents may make their own agreement about the amount of child support, but they must follow the guidelines to calculate child support. The amount can’t be less than the presumptive amount outlined in the Wyoming Child Support Guidelines if any child receives public assistance funding, like Medicaid or food stamps. Courts will still need to approve the agreement to protect the child’s best interests.
When deciding to approve or disapprove the child support, the court can look at the following guidelines:
- The age of the child
- The cost of necessary child day care
- Any special health care and educational needs of the child
- The responsibility of either parent for the support of other children
- The value of services contributed by either parent
- Any expenses reasonably related to the mother’s pregnancy and confinement for that child, if the parents were never married or if the parents were divorced before the birth of the child
- The cost of transportation of the child to and from visiting the other parent
- The ability of either or both parents to furnish health, dental, and vision insurance through employment benefits
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent
- Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child
- Whether either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
Which Agency Handles Child Support in Wyoming?
The Wyoming Child Support Enforcement Program (WCSP) of the Wyoming Department of Family Services handles child support issues in the state. It offers many services, such as:
- Locating parents
- Genetic testing
- Establishing paternity
- Establishing child support and medical support orders
- Enforcing child support and medical support orders
- Initiating child support enforcement cases in other states
- Responding to child support enforcement cases initiated by other states
- Reviewing and modifying child support orders
The cost to open a support case is $25, but there is no fee if you currently receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid.
For general questions, contact the Customer Service Center at 307-777-6948.
If you have a Central Registry or Intergovernmental case inquiry, call 307-777-7603.
The program is headquartered in Cheyenne, and WCSP has 15 locations in Wyoming’s 9 judicial districts. The Wind River Indian Reservation operates two child support programs separate from the WCSP.
To view a list of locations throughout Wyoming, visit the WCSP Locations page.
Wyoming laws require child support to be paid through the Clerk of District Court or the State Disbursement Center in Cheyenne and some Clerks of District Court. The SDU distributes support payments within two business days of receipt. For payment questions, contact the Child Support Payment Information Center at 307-777-5300 or 888-570-9914.
To pay in person, please visit the Pay by Mail address in the Make a Payment section of the website.
Parents should not make child support payments directly to the custodial parent or caregiver. There will not be an official payment record, and you may not receive credit.
The WCSP does not provide the following:
- Establishing, enforcing, or modifying custody orders
- Establishing, enforcing, or modifying visitation orders
- Divorce actions
- Enforcing property and debt division provisions of a divorce decree
- Collection of attorney fees owed to a custodial parent
- Obtaining judgment for children’s medical expenses not covered by insurance
- Collection of children’s medical expenses not covered by insurance, unless reduced to a judgment in the original support order or reduced to judgment after the order is entered
- Legal advice to a parent or caretaker.
Read More: Want an Amicable Divorce? Try Mediation or Collaborative Divorce
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
You must open a child support case by submitting an application to obtain child support services.
You can apply here, or if you cannot apply online, visit, call or write your local child support office and request an application.
Your case will be opened upon receipt of your completed application with the necessary attachments and payment of a $25 fee, if applicable.
Read More: Divorce Laws in Wyoming
Factors that May Impact Child Support in Wyoming
Several factors may impact how much child support is ordered in Wyoming.
Courts will do this by looking at past work history, training, education, and job opportunities in the area. For example, if a parent chooses to work and is considered “voluntarily unemployed or underemployed,” the court will evaluate if the parent could earn more. If the court determines that is the case, an earnings amount may be imputed and assigned to the parent.
Also, a parent cannot stop allowing the other parent to visit with their children if they are late paying child support. Visitation is separate and must be followed as outlined in the current court order, even if the parent is not paying support on time.
A parent can get child support if the other parent does not live in Wyoming. Wyoming works with other states and countries to enforce child support orders, although getting support details worked out may take longer.
If a parent does not know where the other parent lives for support purposes, CSE may be able to use national databases to get an address for or information about the other party.
What if the person ordered to pay child support is in the military?
A civilian court decides the amount of child support, and it usually bases the support amount on the basic military pay for the parent’s rank. If a parent is ordered to pay support and is in the military, they must still pay court-ordered child support no matter where they are stationed. The Military Pay Tables may be helpful to determine the military member pay if it is unknown.
If a parent who owes child support is in jail or prison, the support order continues unless a court changes it. You should contact the child support enforcement office immediately if you are in jail or prison to work through this particular issue.
There are limits on the amount of money that can be withheld from the parent’s paycheck. These limits are increased by 5% if payments are overdue. If the paying parent has another family, no more than 50% of the money earned can be taken away. If there is no second family, 60% of the paycheck can be taken.
Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
Federal and state laws require that medical support for a child must be included as part of a child support order. Medical support may also include dental, vision, or other health care needs. The court will order either or both of the parents to provide medical support if insurance is available at a reasonable cost.
Wyoming courts will also order that one or both parents pay any medical expenses not covered by insurance and any deductible amount on the mandatory insurance coverage. These are extraordinary expenses, including illnesses, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
If both parents are ordered to pay for expenses not covered by insurance, the court will specify the percentage each parent is responsible for.
Extraordinary medical care costs are a “deviation factor,” meaning that the judge determining the amount of child support paid can consider ongoing medical care costs when calculating the monthly amount to be paid. Extraordinary costs may be uninsured costs resulting from major illnesses or treatments such as braces.
How does Wyoming treat child care costs?
Wyoming has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments. They are also considered a deviation factor when calculating monthly child support amounts.
Read More: How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan After Divorce
Establishing Paternity in Wyoming
Paternity means being declared the legal father after the child is born. If the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, the child does not have a legal father until paternity is established.
Establishing paternity is important for several reasons:
- To obtain child support from the biological father
- Establish the biological father’s right to visitation and custody
- Create peace of mind
- To determine grandparentage
- Establish inheritance rights
- Establish insurance claims
- Obtain Social Security benefits
- Establish Native American tribal rights
- Determine the likelihood of being the biological sibling of a long-lost sibling
- Seek entry to the US because they are a relative of a citizen
A proceeding to adjudicate parentage can be brought by:
- The child
- The mother of the child
- A man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated
- The child support enforcement agency
- An authorized adoption agency or a licensed child-placing agency
- A representative authorized by law to act for an individual who would otherwise be entitled to maintain a proceeding but who is deceased, incapacitated, or a minor.
A man is presumed to be the legal father of the child, and no DNA paternity (genetic) testing is required, if:
- The parents are married to each other, and the child is born during the marriage
- The parents were married to each other, and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated
- The parents were married before the child’s birth, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated.
- After the child’s birth, the parents marry each other, and the parents file an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. The acknowledgment of paternity has to be signed by the mother and by the man seeking to establish his paternity.
Hospital staff can help you complete the form free of charge at the time of birth, and the hospital will send the Affidavit to the Wyoming Office of Vital Statistics. The father’s name will be included on the birth certificate.
- For the first two years of the child’s life, the man resided in the same household and openly held out the child as his own.
If you are not sure who the father of the child is, do not sign an Affidavit. A better course of action is to complete DNA paternity genetic testing to determine if a man is the father. The Child Support Program can help you with this by calling 307-777-6948.
Enforcing Wyoming Child Support Orders
The child support program collects child support through a variety of methods. Most child support is collected through income withholding (wage garnishment) to the noncustodial parent’s employer or other sources of income such as unemployment, workers’ compensation, disability, or Social Security retirement.
Other collection methods include, but are not limited to:
- Credit bureau reporting
- Intercepting tax refunds (Federal Offset Program)
- Passport denial
- Asking the state where the noncustodial parent lives to register and enforce the order
- Civil contempt actions through the district court
- Lien and levy on bank accounts
- Suspension of driver’s license or other professional licenses
- Suspension of Wyoming Game & Fish Department license
- Attaching real or personal property
- Federal prosecution for nonpayment of child support
A local office will determine the most effective method to collect the child support owed to you. Some enforcement methods listed above are available only to the child support program and may not be used by private parties.
Modifying Wyoming Child Support Payments
There are three ways child support can be changed in Wyoming.
- If the child support order hasn’t been changed within six months, it can be reviewed and adjusted if the court finds that the support amount would change by 20% or more per month from the amount of the existing order. Temporary changes in income won’t qualify to modify a support order.
- A modification based on a substantial change of circumstances may be requested at any time. For example, if you start receiving aid under the Personal Opportunities With Employment Responsibilities (POWER) Program, medical benefits under Title XIX (19) of the Social Security Act, food stamps, or supplemental security income (SSI), these would qualify as substantial changes of circumstances.
- If you are disabled or receive social security or workers’ compensation benefits, you will need a statement from your doctor or the Social Security Administration. You will also need proof from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Administration if the paying parent is disabled and the child receives benefits.
Other changes, such as custody modifications, may also qualify. However, if a court issued the original custody order, a court must issue a new custody order before Child Support Enforcement, or a lawyer can change the support amount. CSE cannot change custody orders.
- Upon request, the court shall review a support order every three years and, if appropriate, adjust the order according to the child support guidelines. There is no need to show a change of circumstances if it has been at least three years since the previous order.
You can ask a judge to modify or change child support by:
- Using forms available on the Wyoming Supreme Court’s website
- Hiring a lawyer
- Contacting a Child Support Office in the county where the Order would be modified, or if the person obligated to pay child support lives outside of the state. If you do not already have an open child support case, you will need to open one. Once the local office has completed its review, a petition to modify will be filed, or the local office will inform you that it has determined a modification is inappropriate.
Read More: Counseling Children Through Divorce
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are not deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents can alternate years claiming a child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a similar statement.
When Does Child Support End in Wyoming?
A child support obligation ends when:
- The child reaches the “age of majority,” which is usually 18 unless the child is disabled and cannot take care of themselves
- The child is between 18 and 20 and attending high school full-time or an equivalent program full-time
- The child dies
- The child joins the military
- The child marries
- The child has legally emancipated
Wyoming has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support. , Both parents can voluntarily agree to provide support for college expenses by the non-custodial parent, after which it is contractually enforceable.