Divorce – the basics

If you are thinking about divorce, you probably have many questions. On this page, you will find answers to some of the basic questions.

Where do I file for divorce?

You have to file in the state where you are domiciled. This is the place you call your home. I is not necessarily where you happen to be living at the moment.

When can I file for divorce?

You have to live in your state for some minimum time before you can file for divorce. Each state has their own residency requirement. Some are short, like six weeks, and others are long, like twelve months.  Six months is probably the most common.

What happens in a divorce?

A divorce will end the legal marriage of two people. It will take away the many legal benefits of a marital relationship. A divorce also relieves people of the obligations to each other that come with marriage.

Division of marital property

The couple’s property will be divided. Some states are equitable division, others are community property states.

Child custody determination

The court will determine who will have custody of the children, and what sort of visitation the other parent gets.

Child support

The Court will determine who will pay child support and how much the child support will be.

Name change

A divorce decree can also change a spouse’s name to their premarital name. This is usually, but not always, the wife’s name.

How do I prepare for Divorce

If you think you might want a divorce, or that your spouse wants to divorce you, there are things you can do to get ready. These steps will be beneficial, even if you do not go through with a divorce but remain married.

Get your finances in order

Find out how much income and money you and your spouse have. Find out where that money is. Identify all your debts and obligations. Find out whose name each debt is in. Pay off debts in your name, if you can.

Inventory your assets

Make a list of all things you have. These would be cars, appliances, boats, tools, campers, guns, etc. Collect and copy all titles for vehicles, and registrations for everything that has a license plate. Make a video of your things. Take pictures.

Become a better parent

If you have children, now is the time to up your parenting game. Whether or not you want custody, you better be able to show that you are willing and able to take care of the kids.

Pay attention to their schooling. Help them with their homework. Play with them. Cook for them. Get them ready for school. Teach them how to do things. Take them fishing. Read to them. Spend time with them. Attend their school activities and sporting events. Learn about parenting. Take a parenting class.

Clean up your act

If you say bad things about your spouse on Facebook, stop.

Stop posting things on Facebook that a Judge might find offensive.

Drink less, and don’t frequent bars.

Don’t go to strip clubs.

Don’t use drugs, not even marijuana.

When you are going through a divorce, every “bad” thing you do can and will be used against you. You can always do those things after the Judge signs your divorce decree.

Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce?

Many people get a divorce without a lawyer. Most states have resources to help people do their own divorce. All you can do is learn as much as you can. Read some books on divorce. Buy a divorce course. Get some divorce forms, and try to complete them.

If your finances are simple, and child custody is not an issue, then you can probably do your own divorce. You can give it a try, and if you run into a snag, you can always hire a lawyer later.

By Steve Harton

Steve is family law attorney in Wyoming. If you have questions about divorce in Wyoming, please call him at 307-459-6468.