If you are a grandparent raising a grandchild in Wyoming, you are not alone.
Since the late 1990s, the number of Wyoming grandparents caring for their grandchildren has risen sharply, as it has across the nation. In many cases, the situation is temporary.
But even in a temporary situation, grandparents or other relatives caring for a child can run into legal hurdles trying to enroll the child in school or make appointments with the child's doctor and dentist.
Recognizing the increasing number of these family caregivers, the Wyoming Legislature in 2005 created a way for them to obtain temporary guardianship of the child for educational, medical and dental care purposes. The legislation provides a means for family caregivers to easily and inexpensively navigate the legal system to be able to serve the child's needs as quickly as possible.
This guide will walk you through the necessary steps for obtaining the legal means to work with the child's school, and their health-care and dental providers. It is a public service of AARP Wyoming, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Laramie County and Casey Family Programs. It is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consider engaging the services of an attorney if these forms do not adequately meet your particular situation, if you need help filling them out, or if you would like to adopt the child(ren) or petition the court for permanent guardianship or to establish a conservatorship.
If a temporary guardianship is granted by the district court, it is valid for one year, and can be renewed by re-petitioning the court. Some family members opt instead to apply for permanent guardianship, but that process can be lengthy and expensive, and many families prefer not to revoke the rights of the parent(s). Others pursue a conservatorship, which enables the guardian to also control the property of the child(ren). Adoption is another option. It differs from permanent guardianship in that the adopting parents will not need to annually report to the courts. This guide only applies to those pursuing temporary guardianship for educational, medical and dental care purposes.
In addition to the guide, there are several forms included in this packet that you may need to file with the court system. Some are mandatory and others apply only in certain circumstances. You or your legal representative must decide which ones apply to your particular situation.
If you have any questions about which forms you should complete and file with the district court in the county where you and the child(ren) live, you should consult an attorney (some attorneys may offer their services for free, what's known as pro bono, depending on your ability to pay) or call Legal Aid of Wyoming, Inc. at (877) 432-9955.
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