State Laws and Legislation

Wyoming Custody and Visitation Law

Wyoming courts typically will not consider a parent’s sexual orientation in custody and visitation determinations unless it is shown to adversely affect or harm the child(ren). There are no reported or published opinions dealing with transgender parents or same-sex co-parents.

Custody and Visitation for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Parents
Wyoming law states: “In granting a divorce, separation or annulment of a marriage or upon the establishment of paternity … the court may make by decree or order any disposition of the children that appears most expedient and in the best interests of the children. In determining the best interests of the child, the court shall consider, but is not limited to, the following factors: (i) The quality of the relationship each child has with each parent; (ii) The ability of each parent to provide adequate care for each child throughout each period of responsibility, including arranging for each child’s care by others as needed; (iii) The relative competency and fitness of each parent; (iv) Each parent’s willingness to accept all responsibilities of parenting, including a willingness to accept care for each child at specified times and to relinquish care to the other parent at specified times; (v) How the parents and each child can best maintain and strengthen a relationship with each other; (vi) How the parents and each child interact and communicate with each other and how such interaction and communication may be improved; (vii) 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; (viii) Geographic distance between the parents’ residences; (ix) The current physical and mental ability of each parent to care for each child; (x) Any other factors the court deems necessary and relevant. …

“Either parent may petition to enforce or modify any court order regarding custody and visitation. … A court having jurisdiction may modify an order concerning the care, custody and visitation of the children if there is a showing by either parent of a material change in circumstances since the entry of the order in question and that the modification would be in the best interests of the children. … In any proceeding in which a parent seeks to modify an order concerning child custody or visitation, proof of repeated, unreasonable failure by the custodial parent to allow visitation to the other parent in violation of an order may be considered as evidence of a material change of circumstances.”

In a 1995 case, Hertzler v. Hertzler, custody was awarded to the mother on the condition of her “disavowal of lesbianism.” When she entered into a same-sex relationship, she lost custody. She further suffered substantial visitation restrictions when she took her children to pride festival, involved them in her commitment ceremony and allowed them to “snuggle” in bed with her and her partner. The court chastised both parents for using the children as pawns in their “lifestyle battle” but nonetheless upheld the trial court’s decision, noting however that during the proceedings the harsher visitation restrictions against the mother had been “eased.” The high court made numerous statements in its opinion regarding the irrelevance of sexual orientation to the custody and visitation decision.

Citations: WYO. STAT § 20-2-201 (2003); WYO. STAT. § 20-2-204; Hertzler v. Hertzler, 908 P.2d 946 (Wyo. 1995).

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Updated: Tue, October 12, 2004 - 11:00:39