8.3 Child Support
In order to establish a child support obligation, paternity shall first be established as discussed in 8.2 Paternity. Once paternity is established, child support may be established in the same legal action or in a separate legal action in a District Court in Wyoming. In all IV-D cases, medical support will also be addressed. For details please refer to 8.4 Medical Support. In order to establish a child support obligation, a District Court shall have:
Jurisdiction over the parties and venue as described in Wyo. Stat. §14-2-204;
Appropriate service of process as defined by the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure (WRCP); and
Income information (or information necessary to impute income) for both parents.
The Wyoming child support guidelines are based upon the income of both parents. This shared income approach is founded on the concept that the child involved should receive the same support as if the parents lived together. The steps in the shared income method are:
1) Ascertaining who has been/will be the custodial parent;
2) Calculating the net income of each parent;
3) Calculating the combined income of both parents;
4) Determining the joint parental obligation; and
5) Allocating the child support obligation between the parents based upon the proportion of their income to the combined income.
The actual child support amount calculated utilizing the Wyoming child support guidelines is called “presumptive” child support. It is the amount “presumed” to be the correct child support award for the situation. Once presumptive child support is determined, under certain circumstances the parties may agree to deviate from the presumptive support amount or the court may order a different amount based upon statutory deviation reasons described on page 3.
Wyoming Statute § 20-2-304 establishes the guidelines for presumptive child support. The Statute contains three (3) different ways to calculate presumptive support:: 1) standard with no credits for overnight visitation; 2) credit for court-ordered overnight visitation if it exceed 25% of the total number of nights in the year; or 3) split custody when parents each have care and control of one or more children
In order to determine the presumptive child support amount, the District CSP Office will serve upon both the custodial and non-custodial parents the Wyoming Supreme Court financial affidavit.
If one or both of the parties does not properly complete the financial affidavit, the District CSP Office will utilize locate sources discussed in Chapter 7 Locate to find income or asset information for the parties.
The District CSP Office will use income information and the Wyoming child support guidelines to calculate the presumptive child support amount.
When a parent’s actual income is not available, the case worker will need to impute or assign income to a parent in order to calculate child support. There are several instances where the case worker may have to impute income to a party in order to calculate presumptive child support.
Voluntarily Under-Employed. When a parent is voluntarily under-employed (e.g. the parent is purposefully making less income than the parent could make), the income is based upon the actual income, potential income or minimum wage whichever is higher. See the District CSP Office Attorney for specific examples of under-employed circumstances as defined by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Minimum Wage. If one or both of the parties fails to complete the Wyoming Supreme Court financial affidavit and the case worker cannot find wage information through other sources or in the case of a parent that does not work outside of the home, the District CSP Office will impute minimum wage to one or both parties. The income will be defined by Wyoming statutes and calculated using full-time (e.g. 40 hours per week) wages.
Note: All District CSP Offices will use the imputed wage calculation provided by the IV-D Director. This calculation is updated and reviewed by the IV-D Director and District CSP Office Managers when minimum wage increases or the Wyoming guidelines are changed.
Social Security or Veteran’s Benefits
If a custodial parent is receiving social security or veteran’s benefits (hereinafter “benefits”) for the child(ren) due to the steps taken by the non-custodial parent to receive the benefits, the total benefit paid to the non-custodial parent and paid to the child(ren) through the custodial parent will be counted as income to the non-custodial parent for purposes of calculating child support. However, the total benefit received by the custodial parent for the child will be deducted from the non-custodial parent’s share of presumptive support. If the subtracted amount results in a negative child support obligation, the child support amount will be zero.
Note: The non-custodial parent or the Wyoming CSP Program may petition the court for a retroactive credit against any child support arrears based upon the benefits received by the custodial parent.
A District Court may deviate from the presumptive child support amount. If the District Court deviates from the presumptive support amount, the court order will contain the presumptive child support amount, the actual support amount, and the specific reason for the deviation.
The deviation factors the District Court will consider are:
The age of the child;
The cost of day care;
Any special educational or health needs of the child;
The responsibility of either parent for the support of other children whether court-ordered or not;
The value of services contributed by either parent;
Under certain circumstances, reasonable confinement or birthing expenses;
The cost of transportation to and from visitation;
The cost of health insurance through an employer;
The amount of time each parent spends with the child;
Any other necessary expenses;
Whether either parent is underemployed or voluntarily unemployed; and
Any other factor deemed relevant by the District Court.
Note: District CSP Offices will not agree to a deviation between the parties when one party is receiving means tested sources of income (i.e. Pell grants, POWER grants, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and SSI – see Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-303(a)(ii)). The District Court will decide if a deviation is appropriate for the situation.
Child Support Orders
In Wyoming, the District CSP Office will file a Petition to Establish Support unless child support is being addressed in conjunction with a paternity action. Wyoming law requires a judicial procedure to establish child support. Once both the custodial and non-custodial parent are served with the Petition to Establish Support, a Wyoming Supreme Court financial affidavit, and a hearing notice, the action may proceed in one of three ways: default, stipulation, or contested case.
If the non-custodial parent is served and does not respond to the Petition to Establish Support within the timeframes provided by the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure (WRCP), the District CSP Office may default the non-custodial parent by following the WRCP for default judgments and the requirements of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
The SCRA provides protections for military personnel involved in civil actions. Specifically, before a default judgment can be entered the following will occur.
The District CSP Office will file an affidavit indicating whether the non-custodial parent is in the military;
If it appears the non-custodial parent is in the military, the District Court Judge will appoint an attorney to represent the non-custodial parent; or
If the District Court Judge cannot determine the military status of the non-custodial parent (e.g. deployed), the District Court Judge may require a bond in an amount approved by the District Court Judge.
For details regarding default judgments and the SCRA, please see Appendix 15.B – Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
In addition to the presumptive child support amount, the default order will also address medical support as discussed in 8.4 Medical Support along with a retroactive judgment.
Once the District CSP Office receives enough information to calculate presumptive child support as described above, the District CSP Office may contact the parties with the presumed child support amount to see if they would like to stipulate to the child support amount along with any judgments as discussed below. If so, the District CSP Office will draft a stipulation for the parties’ signature and file the stipulation along with an order for the District Court Judge to sign.
If the parties cannot agree on the child support or wish to deviate in cases where one of the parties is receiving means tested sources of income, the District CSP Office will set the case for hearing before a District Court Judge. The District Court Judge will hear testimony and order child support based upon his or her findings. In addition to child support, the District Court Judge will also address medical support as discussed in 8.4 Medical Support along with retroactive support.
Affidavit of Redirect
If an applicant is someone other than a parent of the child(ren), and a child support order already exists for the child, the support owed by the obligor can be redirected to the applicant. W.S. 20- 2-312 provides that upon affidavit by the applicant, filed with the clerk of district court, the child support shall, by operation of law, be redirected to the person having physical custody of the child.
In an action to establish a child support order, CSP shall petition the court to establish retroactive child support back to the date it received the application for services, unless the child for whom support is sought was less than one (1) year old when the application was received. When the child was less than one (1) year old when the application was received, CSP shall petition the court to establish retroactive back to the child's date of birth. CSP shall also inform each of the parties to the establishment action that he or she may petition the court to establish retroactive support prior to the date of application.
Final Order Requirements
A final order establishing child support will contain the following:
Information about the custodial and non-custodial parents, including:
Date and place of birth, and
Employer name and address;
Name, address, date of birth, and place of birth for all child(ren);
Right of either party, or DFS, to petition to enforce an order pursuant to statute;
Requirement to notify the Clerk of District Court of a change of a party’s address or employer; and
Requirement that all child support be paid through the Clerk of District Court or Wyoming State Disbursement Unit (SDU).
When the final order is filed, it should be accompanied by a confidential statement with social security number (SSN) of each party and child, and an immediate income withholding order (See 9.9 Enforcement – Wage Withholding).
Note: Confidential statements are filed with the Clerk of District Court and may only be inspected by the parties and their attorneys, the Wyoming IV-D Child Support program, and other persons if permitted by court order.
A final order establishing child support may include the following:
Amount of monthly child support;
Judgment based upon retroactive child support; or
Custody and visitation plan.
Note: The abatement process is handled through the Clerk of District Court. All questions concerning abatements should be forwarded to the appropriate Clerk of District Court.
Party Represented by an Attorney
If an attorney represents a case party, the District CSP Office will follow certain guidelines regarding release of information and communication with the party or attorney. See 3.6 Confidentiality and Safeguarding Information – Release of Information and Appendix 8.A – Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel.
Last Revised Date
April 24, 2020