Child Custody in Wyoming

Interests of Child Are Paramount

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One of the most fraught issues in a divorce is the custody of the children of the couple. The family court in Wyoming uses several criteria to determine child custody laws. Primarily, the court determines custody based on the best interests of the child. A court in Wyoming will not show a preference for any parent based on a gender. Custody may be awarded to either parent and may either be joint, shared, or sole.

A parent in Wyoming who is not awarded custody of a child is still entitled to access to a child's medical, dental, and school records, equal to the rights of custodial parents.

The Wyoming courts have full discretion when determining visitation between children and divorced parents. The courts can establish visitation, even if both parents agreed upon a no-visitation policy.

Parents who wish to file for child custody in Wyoming should first become familiar with the custody statutes in the state. Your best source of information on child custody issues is your attorney.

Child's Interests Are Paramount

In determining custody of a child in Wyoming, the court's primary concern is the best interests of the child. There are many factors that a court will look at to decide just what those are.

The quality of the child's relationship with each parent is an important factor. A parent who provides love and affection to the child and is attentive to the child's physical and emotional needs is a better candidate for custody. The court reviews factors that stabilize the relationship between the child and parent, such as the parent's willingness to assume full responsibility for raising the child.

A parent's medical and mental health is an important factor, too. A parent must be able to care for a child on a constant basis. Parents with chronic mental illnesses, such as manic depression or bipolar disorder, which severely alter a person's mood, can create an unsafe environment for the child. Likewise, a parent with a serious health condition that requires expensive medical treatments or long hospital stays will likely be absent or unable to attend to the child's needs.

Also important is a parent's willingness or ability to return the child to the other parent at the end of the parenting time and to resist interfering in the other parent's time with the child, including decision-making and the right to privacy. The court also considers the distance between parents' residences and transportation. The court weighs each parent's ability to communicate with the other parent and his or her interest in improving communication.

Abuse and Child Custody in Wyoming

A court in Wyoming considers any history of spousal or child abuse as evidence against the best interests of the child. Therefore, the court may consider a custody arrangement that best protects the child and the abused spouse from any further harm.

Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents often work together to come up with a parenting plan that lays out the agreed-upon rules about visitation, living arrangements, and decision making. The custodial parent is entitled to make major decisions on the child's education, medical care, and other material needs of the child, while the other parent is allowed access to these records.

Modification of Child Custody in Wyoming

In Wyoming, if a parent seeks to modify the current custody order, a "material and substantial" change must take place since the last order was signed by a judge. The proposed modification must be in the best interests of the child.