Know the Laws: Wyoming
UPDATED October 20, 2012
WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a lawyer in your community for more information on custody. Go to the WY Where to Find Help page for a listing of organizations that can help.
At least one of the child's parents is entitled to custody, unless neither parent is a suitable custodian* or both parents are no longer living.**
If the parents are no longer living or are considered "unfit", the judge can award custody to another person or, in extremely rare cases, to an agency such as the Wyoming Department of Family Services, depending on what the judge believes to be in the best interest of the child.(See factors the court will use for best interest of the child below under “How will a judge make a decision about custody”) “***
* WA ST § 26.10.030(1)
**In re Kosmicki, 468 P.2d 818 (Wyo., 1970)
***WA ST § 20-2-201(a)
Yes, it is possible that a parent who has committed violence will get custody or visitation. The court will consider evidence that you or your child were abused as evidence that custody or visitation may not be in the best interest of your child. If the judge does find that violence has occurred, then s/he must make an arrangement that it thinks best protects you and your children from further harm. This could include giving the abusive parent visitation, allowing the abusive parent to have only supervised visitation, or denying the abusive parent visitation altogether.
If the judge does award the other parent visitation, you can request that the judge order the child be dropped off and picked up in a particular safe place, such as a police department.*
If you are concerned about your or your child’s safety and want to keep your address and phone number confidential during court proceedings, you have the right to file an affidavit or include this request in your court papers. You would have to explain why the health, safety or liberty of you or child would be jeopardized if specific identifying information is not kept confidential. The judge can hold a hearing about this issue and if the judge agrees, that information will be sealed and may not be given to the other party or the public.** You may want to contact an attorney to discuss this further or ask the court staff how you can file an affidavit to make this request.
* W.S. § 20-2-201 (c)
** W.S. § 20-4-162
If you are the child's grandparent or great-grandparent*1, then you may be able to get visitation rights. The judge will grant you reasonable visitation rights if s/he thinks that it would be in the best interest of the child and that it would not substantially impair the child's parents' rights.*2 However, grandparents will not have an action if the minor grandchild has been adopted and neither adopting parent is related by blood to the child.*3
If you are another relative, then you can only start an action seeking visitation if you have been the child's primary caregiver for at least 6 months, within the past 18 months. "Primary caregiver" means that the child lived with you and you were the main person taking care of the child. Similar to the grandparents’ visitation rights, a court will only grant a primary caregiver reasonable visitation rights if it is in the best interest of the child and does not substantially impair the rights of the parents. *4
*1 W.S. § 20-7-101(e)
*2 W.S. § 20-7-101(a)
*3 W.S. § 20-7-101(c)
*4 W.S. § 20-7-102