Wyoming Laws on Alimony
By Maggie Lourdes
Alimony, or spousal support, is money paid by a party to a former spouse. Wyoming, like all states, has a specific set of laws governing alimony awards. Wyoming, also like all states, allows individuals to obtain a divorce without proving the other party was at fault. Alimony is not intended to punish a paying spouse, but rather to provide fair and necessary assistance to the spouse who needs it. Alimony statutes are gender neutral; both men and women can receive it.
Types of Alimony
Alimony in Wyoming may be permanent, temporary, rehabilitative, or paid in a lump-sum. Permanent alimony is awarded in rare circumstances, such as when a spouse has a lifelong disability. Temporary alimony is paid for a specific amount of time to allow a dependent spouse to reestablish herself in the workforce. Rehabilitative alimony may include funds for a dependent spouse's education so that she can become self-sufficient. Alternatively, a judge may award a lump-sum alimony payment. This will avoid the hassle of collecting monthly payments, but it can have tax disadvantages for the spouse receiving the payment.
Judges in Wyoming consider several factors when deciding alimony requests. The length of the marriage, dependency of a spouse and income levels are all considered. If one spouse faces a significant drop in the couple's accustomed lifestyle, she is more likely to receive alimony. Stay-at-home spouses are more likely to receive alimony than career spouses. The income of the paying spouse is also considered. Alimony generally is not awarded if it creates severe, financial stress on the paying party. However, during a pending divorce, the court may require either party to pay a necessary sum to enable the other part to carry on or defend the action as well as order support before the final judgment is made.
Changes in Circumstances
Wyoming law recognizes that a change in circumstances can impact the fairness of alimony. For example, if a receiving spouse remarries or obtains a live-in partner, alimony generally ends. If the receiving spouse's financial conditions substantially improve after the divorce, alimony may also be terminated. The paying spouse's circumstances are also considered. For example, if the paying spouse retires or loses his job, alimony may be terminated. The court may also consider other specific events when deciding to terminate alimony, such as when the receiving spouse refuses to work or doesn't make an effort to improve her circumstances.
Courts Retain Power
To request a revision of an alimony award, a party must petition the court. If a party fails to make payments, a judge may garnish wages, bank accounts or seize property to satisfy those missed payments. A judge may also hold a party in contempt of court for failing to meet alimony obligations. A court continues to have discretion to revise alimony orders after a divorce in the interests of justice.
Maggie Lourdes is a full-time attorney in southeast Michigan. She teaches law at Cleary University in Ann Arbor and online for National University in San Diego. Her writing has been featured in "Realtor Magazine," the N.Y. State Bar's "Health Law Journal," "Oakland County Legal News," "Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal," "Eye Spy Magazine" and "Surplus Today" magazine.