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Legal Glossary

Provided below is a glossary of legal terms based on Wyoming statutes. You may encounter the following terminology when interacting with attorneys and service agencies. To better prepare yourself for these meetings, familiarize yourself with the terms below and consider which seem most applicable to your situation.

Legal Custody

A legal status created by court order which implies various rights and duties including provision of food, shelter, clothing, medical care and education; protection, training and discipline; authorization of surgery or other emergency medical care, as well as physical custody.

Find more information—Wyo Stat. 14-3-402 (Child Protection Act)

Residual Parental Rights and Duties

Rights and duties remaining with the parents after legal custody, guardianship of the person or both have been vested in another person, agency or institution. Residual parental rights and duties include but are not limited to the duty to support and provide necessities of life; the right to consent to adoption, to reasonable visitation unless restricted or prohibited by court order, to determine the minor's religious affiliation and to petition on behalf of the minor. Even upon loss of legal custody, these are residual parental rights.

Find more information—Wyo Stat. 14-3-402 (Child Protection Act)


The person appointed by the court to have custody of the minor, or ward; also known as fiduciary. Differs from "conservator" in that a conservator also has custody and control of the ward's property, can be called the guardian of the estate or property.

Find more information—Wyo Stat. 3-2-201 (explains the duties and powers of guardians)

How to petition for appointment of a guardian—Wyo. Stat. 3-2-101

Temporary or Emergency Guardian

An appointment of guardianship with the same duties and powers as full guardianship that is initiated by petition and determined by court hearing that usually lasts up to 90 days but may be extended for up to one (1) year.

Find more information—Wyo. Stat. 3-2-106

Temporary Guardian for Medical, Dental and Educational Consent

Wyoming grandparents and other family caregivers who are taking care of most of the basic needs for their grandchildren have the opportunity to petition the court to provide medical, dental and educational consent for their grandchildren without changing the legal custody status of the parents. This allows the family caregiver to work directly with the child’s school, doctors and dentists. It is temporary and only valid for one year, but the grandparent or family caregiver can petition for an annual renewal with the court after one year.

Find more information—Wyo. Stat. 3-2-301

Stand-By Conservator

A guardian designated by petition and authorized by court order prior to, and whose authority is activated upon, the occurrence of a specified event or the origination of a described mental or physical health condition of the petitioner, or current custodian. Once designated, this person can step in without requiring further attorney services or court orders as guardian in temporary or emergency situations until final decisions are made.

Find more information—Wyo. Stat. 3-2-108. Stand-by conservator—Wyo. Stat 3-3-101


The effect of this act terminates a former parent or guardian's rights to the control or custody of the child. The adopting person shall have all of those rights and obligations respecting the child as if they were natural parents. The adopting parents will not need to annually report to the courts as a guardianship requires. The key determining factor in an adoption is addressing the permanency of the placement.

Find more information—Wyo Stat. 1-22-114


As defined by Wyoming Department Family Services, permanency is the method or approach which considers the individualized, most appropriate, permanent home for a child, including, but not limited to relatives, adoption, guardianship, or independent living.

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