Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorney. Only an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.
- What Is Child Support?
- What is Child Support Enforcement Services?
- Is legal action needed to force a parent to pay child support?
- How and when is child support ordered?
- How is child support determined?
- What are child support guidelines?
- What is the income shares model?
- What is income?
- What is “net” income?
- What if I receive public benefits? How is that factored into the child support amount?
- What does it mean if someone is considered “voluntarily unemployed or underemployed”?
- What if I want to change jobs or go back to school to get an education?
- What can I do if the child support order is not being paid?
- What are the consequences for not paying child support?
- Can a parent stop allowing the other parent to visit with the children if he or she is late paying child support?
- Can I stop paying child support if I am not allowed visitation by the other parent as required by court order?
- When does a child support obligation end?
- Can child support be modified or changed?
- What has to happen for child support to be increased or decreased?
- If custody is changed, does child support also change?
- How do I ask for a change in the child support order?
- Can I get child support if the other parent does not live in Wyoming?
- Can I get child support if I don’t know where the other parent lives?
- What if the person ordered to pay child support is in the military?
- What if the parent owing child support is in jail or prison?
- Is overtime pay calculated into the child support obligation?
- If my children receive Social Security or veteran’s benefits, will it affect child support amounts?
- What is an income withholding order?
- Are there limits on the amount of money, which can be withheld from the obligated parent’s paycheck?
- Can parents make their own agreements about the amount of child support to be paid?
- How is child support paid? Who is it paid to?
- What if I am obligated to pay child support but I have the child for 15 or more consecutive days?
- Who is obligated to pay for health insurance and medical expenses of a child?
What Is Child Support?
Child support is money paid by one parent to the other for the purpose of providing financial support to a child or children. Most frequently, child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent, but this is not always the case. In addition, each state uses a different formula for calculating child support.
Child support is not just about the payment of money. It is also not about punishing the other parent. Child support is about what is best for the child and making sure that the child is provided for.
Wyoming Statutes 20-6-102(a)(viii)
What is Child Support Enforcement Services?
The Child Support Enforcement Division of the Wyoming Department of Family Services 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; and
- Reviewing and modifying child support orders.
Child Support Enforcement services are available to any parent or person with custody of a child, regardless of need or income. The cost to open a support case is $25.00. There is no fee if you are currently receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid. This information was found in the Wyoming Family Service’s Guide to Wyoming’s Child Support Enforcement Program.
Is legal action needed to force a parent to pay child support?
Not always. But the only way to get an enforceable child support order is to get an order signed by a judge. A promise or agreement to pay is not enough, but a judge can approve an appropriate agreement or promise and make it a support order.
How and when is child support ordered?
Child support orders are issued by the court (signed by a judge), in a court proceeding, usually in a paternity, child custody or divorce action. They can also be ordered any time a child is put in an out-of-home placement, like foster care, or when a child is in the physical custody of a grandparent, other relative or other caretaker.
You can contact your local child support enforcement office or hire a private lawyer for help getting a support order.
How is child support determined?
Child support is calculated by taking into account factors like the incomes of the parents, other children the parents have to support, custody and visitation schedules, and work related day care costs for the children. The amount determined is based on the combined income of both parents. Each parent will fill out a form called a Confidential Financial Affidavit, which details the amount of money each parent makes. When this document is given to the court, the parents must also include pay stubs, employer statements, and a copy of their last two years’ income tax returns. For child support forms, including a Net Income Calculation Worksheet for Child Support, go to the Wyoming Judicial Branch website. (Click on "Family Law" and see Packets 5-8, 11, and 12).
To estimate your child support obligation or how much child support, you could receive or pay; you can use the Wyoming Child Support Calculator. WARNING: The appropriate net income of both parents is necessary in order for the child support calculation to work. See information below.
What are child support guidelines?
Child support guidelines are required by law to be used to determine the amount usually awarded for the support of minor children when parents do not reside together.
What is the income shares model?
The income shares model for determining child support is the most commonly used method for calculating child support. To determine the child support amount both parent’s net monthly income is used in a calculation to determine the amount that parents who reside together expend for the needs of their child or children, based on combined family income and the size of the family. The method then determines the pro-rated amount each parent should contribute to their child or children when the parents do not reside together.
What is income?
Wyoming, like most other states, considers income for child support purposes to be income from any source received. The court considers both parents’ income when calculating child support. The following are examples the court may consider to be income: wages, earnings, salary from employment and self-employment, including commissions, overtime pay, tips and bonuses, commission, compensation as an independent contractor, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability and permanent total disability, worker's compensation payments, unemployment compensation, annuity and retirement benefits, and any other payments received.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-303(a)(ii)
What is “net” income?
"Net income" means income as defined above minus personal income taxes, social security deductions, cost of dependent health care coverage for all dependent children, actual payments being made under preexisting support orders for current support of other children, other court-ordered support obligations currently being paid and mandatory pension deductions. Payments towards child support arrearage can’t be deducted from the income to get to the net income.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-303(a)(iii)
What if I receive public benefits? How is that factored into the child support amount?
People who receive certain public benefits:
- If you get aid under the Personal Opportunities with Employment Responsibilities (POWER) program, you must tell the program about any child support decision made by the judge. The program may need to adjust the amount of benefits that comes from POWER.
- If you receive aid, you also must cooperate with the Department of Family Services (DFS) and its Child Support Enforcement Services (CSES) to establish paternity and to establish, enforce or modify child support, unless you qualify for an exception like the Family Violence Option.
While the Family Violence Option (FVO) allows the state to waive child support cooperation requirements for domestic violence victims, the child support program contains a separate mechanism to excusing custodial parents from cooperation called "good cause." A custodial parent receiving TANF could claim good cause if she could prove emotional or physical harm to herself or her child. Other good cause grounds might include rape, incest, and pending adoption proceedings. Estimates suggest that roughly twenty percent of women on welfare are current domestic violence victims, and sixty percent have had violent relationships in their past adult lives.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-307(b)(xiii), Wyoming Statutes 20-2-304(e), and Wyoming Statutes 20-2-303(a)(ii).
If you or your children receive public benefits, you need to tell your DFS Caseworker or local child support enforcement office because getting or changing child support may have an impact on your benefits.
What does it mean if someone is considered “voluntarily unemployed or underemployed”?
Voluntarily unemployed means the parent is not working by choice, sometimes to avoid paying child support. In other words, he/she may have quit work or chosen never to work. Voluntarily underemployed means the parent is working for less money by choice. When a parent is underemployed, the parent's current wages are less than previous wages.
The court will evaluate whether the paying parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed by looking at past work history, training, education and job opportunities in the area.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-307(b)(xi)
What if I want to change jobs or go back to school to get an education?
The court may determine whether a school or a career change will result in a better long-term situation for the child. If not, the court may not approve a change in child support.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-307(b)(xi)(B) and Wyoming Statutes 20-2-309
What can I do if the child support order is not being paid?
You can contact Wyoming Child Support Enforcement (CSE) or you can hire a lawyer to help collect the child support. CSE represents the State and not you, but their services are free or provided at a very low cost. For more information, contact the Wyoming Child Support Enforcement office.
Wyoming Statutes 20-6-103 to 20-6-108 and Wyoming Statutes 20-2-310
What are the consequences for not paying child support?
If the parent ordered to pay child support does not pay, he or she may face one or more of the following enforcement measures to collect regular and past-due payments:
- An income withholding order is entered automatically in most child support actions; however, if one wasn’t entered originally and the child support is not being paid, the court may enter an income withholding order;
- Suspension of driver's license and/or commercial driver's license, professional, occupational and/or recreational license (hunting license);
- Charge the parent with civil contempt of court or criminal non-support (which may include jail time);
- Deny a passport issuance or have a passport revoked or restricted;
- Report the parent to credit reporting agencies;
- Put a lien on the parent's property;
- Take the parent’s tax refund;
- Require the noncustodial parent to post bond, security, or guarantee to insure that he/she pays child support.
Wyoming Statutes 20-6-111 to 20-6-112
For more information, contact the Wyoming Child Support Enforcement office.
Can a parent stop allowing the other parent to visit with the children if he or she is late paying child support?
No. Each parent must allow the visitation time that is ordered in your divorce or custody order, even if child support is not being paid.
Can I stop paying child support if I am not allowed visitation by the other parent as required by court order?
No. You must continue to pay child support even if you are being denied visitation. You can, however, ask a judge to enforce your visitation schedule.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-313 and Wyoming Statutes 20-6-111
When does a child support obligation end?
A child support obligation ends when:
- The child dies;
- The child joins the military;
- The child marries;
- The child is legally emancipated; or
- The child reaches the “age of majority” which is usually 18 unless, the child is: disabled and cannot take care of himself/herself; or is between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty (20) years and attending high school full‑time or an equivalent program full‑time.
Can child support be modified or changed?
Yes, child support can be changed under certain circumstances. See the Wyoming Supreme Court’s Pro Se forms on child support modification. (Click on "Family Law" and see Packets 5 - 8.)
What has to happen for child support to be increased or decreased?
There are basically three ways that child support can be changed. First, if the child support order hasn’t been changed within six (6) months, then it can be reviewed and adjusted if the court finds that the support amount would change by twenty percent (20%) or more per month from the amount of the existing order. Temporary changes in income likely won’t qualify to modify a support order.
Secondly, a modification of child support based on a substantial change of circumstances may be brought at any time. The commencement of aid under the Personal Opportunities With Employment Responsibilities (POWER) Program, medical benefits under Title XIX (19) of the Social Security Act, food stamps and supplemental security income (SSI) are examples of substantial changes of circumstances requiring modification of child support. Other changes, including custody modifications, may also be sufficient.
Finally, every three (3) years, upon request, the court shall review a support order and, if appropriate, adjust the order in accordance with the child support guidelines. There is no need for a showing of a change of circumstances if it has been at least three years since the previous order.
If custody is changed, does child support also change?
If physical custody of the child has changed, very often child support will also change. 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. Child Support Enforcement cannot change custody orders.
Important: If the parents agree to change custody, they should do so through the court. Child support can’t be modified back to when custody changed, so filing a case with the court is very important.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-311 and Wyoming Statutes 20-2-312
How do I ask for a change in the child support order?
You can ask a judge to modify or change child support using forms available on the Supreme Court’s website, hire a lawyer, or contact a Child Support Office in the county in which the Order would be modified or if the person obligated to pay child support lives outside of the state. 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. And you will need proof from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Administration if the paying parent is disabled and the child receives benefits.
Can I get child support if the other parent does not live in Wyoming?
Yes, however it may take longer because Child Support Enforcement may have to work through the child support agency in the state where the other parent lives.
Can I get child support if I don’t know where the other parent lives?
The other party’s location is important because in order to get a child support order, the other party must be served with or mailed the papers. If you are unsure where the other parent lives, Child Support Enforcement 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?
Military people must pay court ordered child support no matter where they are stationed. 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. The Military Pay Tables may be helpful to determine the military member pay if it is unknown. You may want to contact a lawyer to help resolve military pay and benefits issues because these matters can be very complicated.
If you are an active-duty service member, you may be able find resources through the Military Pro Bono Project.
What if the parent owing child support is in jail or prison?
A child support order continues while a parent is in jail or prison unless a court changes it.
Important: You should contact the child support enforcement office immediately if you are in jail or prison. Changes in your child support are not automatic and do not go back to the date your income changed so you need to act immediately.
Is overtime pay calculated into the child support obligation?
Overtime compensation is not counted unless the court, after considering all overtime earned in the last twenty-four (24) months, decides that overtime pay is likely to continue.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-303(a)(ii)
If my children receive Social Security or veteran’s benefits, will it affect child support amounts?
If your children receive part of a parent’s social security or veteran benefits, you might want to contact a private lawyer or legal services program for assistance with child support calculation. The child support amount will be reduced by the amount of the social security or veteran's benefit sent directly to the parent with custody of the children.
What is an income withholding order?
An income withholding order (IWO) tells an employer to take child support money out of the paycheck of the parent who has to pay. When a court issues a child support order, it will almost always automatically enter an IWO and the money is taken out of the paycheck right away.
If you want to pay or receive the child support another way and both parents agree about how to do it, you can ask the court to let you do it your way instead. You need to have your arrangement in writing and both parents need to sign the arrangement. The court will review your plan and if it agrees with it, make it an official agreement.
If necessary, you can ask the court to wait awhile before they allow the employer to take money out of your paycheck but you need a very good reason and the court may still say no.
Wyoming Statutes 20-6-106(m)(x)
Are there limits on the amount of money, which can be withheld from the obligated parent’s paycheck?
There is a limit to how much money can be taken out of someone’s paycheck for child support. 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. These limits are increased by five percent (5%) if payments are overdue for a period equal to twelve (12) weeks or more.
Wyoming Statutes 20-6-106(m)(xi)
Can parents make their own agreements about the amount of child support to be paid?
Not usually. However, in some circumstances parents may make their own agreement about the amount of child support, but they must follow certain guidelines to calculate child support. Also, the amount can’t be less than the presumptive amount set forth in the Wyoming Child Support Guidelines if any child receives public assistance funding, like Medicaid or food stamps.
If the parents reach their own agreement, the court will compare the amount of money the parents decided with the guidelines to make sure it is enough. If the amount of child support the parents agree on themselves is very different, the court may require both parents to write an explanation explaining why they agreed to that amount of child support. The court will then likely review the explanations and decide if additional or corrected information is needed, or that the agreement is approved or disapproved.
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 prior to 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.
No deviations from the presumed support are allowed unless the court chooses to deviate from the set amount because the amount was unjust or inappropriate in the particular case.
How is child support paid? Who is it paid to?
The parent who is required to pay child support, pays his or her share to the Clerk of District Court or the State Distribution Unit (SDU). The court or the SDU then gives the money to the parent who has physical custody of the children.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-304 and Wyoming Statutes 20-2-309(f)
What if I am obligated to pay child support but I have the child for 15 or more consecutive days?
If your child support order was in effect prior to July 1, 2018 and a non-custodial parent has physical custody of a child for 15 or more consecutive days (15 or more days in a row), the support payments may be reduced by one-half for each day the non-custodial parent has physical custody, unless otherwise ordered by the court. A claim must be filed with the Clerk of District Court within 30 days. The custodial parent may object within 30 days of being notified.
This type of claim is called Child Support Abatement and is only available for child support orders in effect prior to July 1, 2018. Forms and instructions for filing a child support abatement claim or filing an objection are available on the Wyoming Judicial Branch website. (Click on "Family Law" and see Packet 13.) The filing fee is $10.00. Click here for the District Court directory.
Wyoming Statutes 20-2-305 - Repealed by Laws 2018, ch. 42, § 2
Who is obligated to pay for health insurance and medical expenses of a child?
The law requires that medical support for the child(ren) be included as part of any child support order. The court shall order either or both of the parents to provide medical support, if insurance can be obtained at a reasonable cost and the benefits under the insurance policy are accessible to the child(ren). Medical support may include dental, vision or other health care needs for the child(ren). In addition, the court will order that any medical expenses not covered by insurance and any deductible amount on the required insurance coverage be paid by one or both parents. If both parents are ordered to pay for expenses not covered by insurance, the court will specify the proportion for which each parent is responsible (for example, 50 percent to one parent and 50 percent to the other parent). You are encouraged to consult this Affordable Care Act Fact Sheet in determining which parent will carry the children's health insurance.