When you and your spouse tied the knot, you may have signed a prenuptial agreement. If so, then you’ve likely already discussed the topic of property division laws in Wyoming. If you were more focused on planning a meaningful ceremony and building dreams for the future (not wanting to consider the possibility that things may not work out the way you’d hoped then you may be treading into unknown territory when it comes to how to divide your assets now that you’ve decided to divorce.
There are only nine states in the entire nation that operate under community property laws. This means when residents of these states divorce, the court automatically divides their marital property 50/50 between them. Courts typically define marital property as any income, possession or assets you or your spouse acquired during the marriage. (Unless, of course, you have a prenuptial agreement separating ownership of a particular asset.)
Wyoming is not one of the nine
If you file your divorce in this state, you are not part of the nine minority states who use community property laws. Wyoming (and most other states) apply equitable distribution standards to divorce. This term can be confusing to understand, so here are some basic facts about it that may apply to your situation:
- Equitable does not necessarily mean 50/50.
- Equitable means the court will divide marital property in a fair way.
- The equitable division process if flexible, and the court may act within its own best judgment in any given situation. This creates a bit of uncertainty in many divorces because spouses cannot assume they will get a particular property or asset, as they can when community property laws apply.
- Sometimes divorcing spouses agree to trade assets under equitable distribution laws. For instance, you can’t split a beach house down the middle, but one spouse may agree to let the other keep the beach house while retaining other assets of similar value.
- It’s possible for the court’s interpretation of equitable division not to be equal.
- If you and your spouse can negotiate a property division agreement ahead of time, the court need only give its stamp of approval rather than actually decide how assets will be divided.
The last fact on this list allows people to maintain a lot of control in their divorce situations. Problems often arise, however, for those who suffer severe communication breakdowns, which tend to make amicable negotiation nearly impossible. All hope is not necessarily lost in such cases. Many Wyoming residents find that by allowing a skilled negotiator to act on their behalves, they can avoid contentious debates and achieve fair and agreeable solutions to any property division problems that arise during divorce proceedings.
You no doubt assumed your marriage would last a lifetime, yet you are certainly not alone if you were surprised when it didn’t. If you focus on obtaining a fair and agreeable settlement, you may be able to gain closure on one chapter of your life as you open new doors and make plans for a successful future. The process may be easier if you ask a family law attorney to represent you in court.