Understanding How Custody Works

When parents in Wyoming separate and begin the divorce process, child custody is often an issue of paramount importance. In the best of circumstances, you and your spouse will be able to create a workable parenting arrangement. However, when parents cannot agree, a Court will make the decision based on what it believes to be in the best interest of the children.

The Best Interests of the Children Defined

Although it was once traditional for mothers to receive custody, especially of younger children, Wyoming law now prohibits the award of custody based solely on gender.

A custody arrangement may consist of any combination of sole custody, shared custody, or joint custody.

When determining what outcome is in the children’s best interests, the Court considers the following factors:

  • The quality of the relationship the child has with each parent;
  • The ability of each parent to provide adequate care for each child;
  • The relative competency and fitness of each parent;
  • Each parent’s willingness to accept all responsibility of parenting;
  • How the parents and each child can best maintain and strengthen a relationship with each other;
  • How the parents and each child interact and communicate with each other and how such interaction and communication may be improved;
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to allow the other to provide care without intrusion, respect the other parent’s rights and responsibilities, including the right to privacy;
  • Geographic distance between the parents’ residences;
  • The current physical and mental ability of each parent to care for each child;
  • Any factors the court deems necessary and relevant.

One parent is usually awarded primary physical custody, and the other parent is awarded visitation. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a schedule, the Court will dictate the arrangement.

If there is evidence of spousal or child abuse, the court will consider a custody arrangement that protects the children and/or the abused parent from additional danger.

Uniform Child Custody Act

Under the Uniform Child Custody Act, a Wyoming court has jurisdiction over a custody matter if the children have lived in Wyoming for at least six months. Otherwise, the case must be handled by the Court in their last state of residence. In an emergency situation, (for example, if domestic violence is involved), a Wyoming Court can become involved in the case even if the children have lived in Wyoming for less than six months.

Custody Modification

If a parent seeks a change of custody, it is possible to do, but that party must show that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances AND that modification is in the best interest of the children.

If you a have question about child custody, or any other Family Law question, contact Ken Cohen to schedule an appointment.