#1: What is a GAL? A GAL is a Guardian ad Litem, which means guardian at law. A GAL typically represents the interests or wishes, or both, of children in juvenile court proceedings, but sometimes a GAL can be appointed for a vulnerable adult, in adult court, too. A GAL in Wyoming must be an attorney, even though other states do not require this. A GAL is not an advocate, caretaker, or legal guardian for someone. A GAL can be appointed in abuse, neglect (sometimes known as child welfare or dependency cases), termination of parental rights (TPR), children in need of supervision (CHINS), delinquency, divorce, custody, guardianship, conservatorship, or adult protection proceedings and all appellate proceedings filed as a result of these cases. Although all of these cases may have a GAL appointed, not all of these cases are the responsibility of the Wyoming GAL Program. The Wyoming GAL Program cannot be appointed to any private matter. Our Program can only be appointed to abuse and neglect cases, TPR cases, some CHINS or delinquency cases, and all appellate proceedings filed as a result of these cases. For more information on these cases and the enabling statutes, please view our Legal Resources page.
#2: Why doesn't the Wyoming GAL Program represent clients as GALs in all types of cases? The Wyoming Statutes specify the cases in which the GAL Program can represent clients, and the Program is prohibited from providing GAL representation in any other type of case.
#3: The Wyoming GAL Program does not provide a GAL for the case I am involved in, how do I find a GAL? Appointment of GALs in divorce, custody, guardianship, conservatorship, adult protection and other cases are appointed according to the common practices of your local community or county. Sometimes a judge keeps a list of GALs and will automatically appoint one from their list. Sometimes a judge will ask you or your attorney to find a GAL you are comfortable with. You should discuss this with your attorney. Please note; the costs of these attorneys are not the responsibility of the Wyoming GAL Program.
#4: What is a CASA and how is it different than a GAL? A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate. In some Wyoming counties, a child can have both a GAL and a CASA. A CASA is not an attorney and is not appointed to look out for the child's legal interests. CASAs are lay advocates who volunteer their time to help children and families. Wyoming Juvenile Court Rules state that CASAs can only be appointed in abuse and neglect proceedings. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children to ensure they don't get lost in the legal and social service system or get stuck in inappropriate placements. Volunteers report to the Judge and stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
#5: What type of representation does a GAL provide to a client? GALs represent children or vulnerable adults in one of four different ways. Nationally, there are four representation models which also exist in some form in Wyoming depending on the type of case to which the GAL is appointed. The Wyoming GAL Program has adopted the hybrid model of representation for all abuse and neglect cases. This means the GAL should represent both the child's best interests and the child's wishes at the same time. For CHINS and delinquency cases, if the Wyoming GAL Program is appointed in addition to a direct representation attorney, the GAL represents the child's best interests only, using the best interests model of representation. For more information on models of representation please visit our Materials page.
#6: How do I get in touch with my GAL? The Wyoming GAL Program provides contact information for all program GALs on our Staff tab located above. For GALs not part of the Wyoming GAL Program, please refer the Wyoming State Bar Association’s membership directory to find an attorney in your community.
#7: A child I know was appointed a GAL by the Wyoming GAL Program, how do I find out who it is? All clients of the Wyoming GAL Program have legal rights to confidentiality. Even the fact that the child is a client is confidential. Client or case information cannot be discussed with anyone not affiliated with the Wyoming GAL Program.
#8: How do I know if a GAL is doing what they are supposed to be doing? All GALs contracted or employed with the Wyoming GAL Program are required to abide by policies and rules of the Program. These are called the standards. GALs representing clients for the Wyoming GAL Program are held to these standards for only the five types of cases that the Wyoming GAL Program is responsible for: abuse and neglect cases, CHINS and delinquency cases, TPR cases filed as a result of these cases, and appellate proceedings filed as a result of these cases. Information regarding Wyoming GAL Program policies and rules can be found on our Operations page.
At the present time no entity supervises or sets statewide standards or maintains statewide supervision for GALs in other types of proceedings that do not fall within the statutory responsibility of the Wyoming GAL Program. These GALs are not required to follow any standards or complete training requirements prior to representing children or vulnerable adults.
#9: I'm concerned that a GAL is not following the rules of your Program, what do I do? All GALs appointed to cases that are the responsibility of the Wyoming GAL Program are required to abide by rules, policies, and procedures of the Wyoming GAL Program. These standards guide the GAL's actions while representing clients. Some standards define how often GALs are required to meet with clients, and some standards set guidelines to children appearing at hearings. All of these standards, and more, can be found on our Operations page.
The Wyoming GAL Program cares about your concerns. We know it is important to provide you with a means of communicating your concerns to Wyoming GAL Program Administrative Staff. We have provided you with the tools to submit formal complaints to our office via our Formal Complaint page. Information about the process, as well as steps to filing a complaint can be found there.
At the present time, complaints regarding GALs not part of our Program cannot be accepted. There is no formal complaint process for GALs appointed to cases that are not the statutory responsibility of the Wyoming GAL Program. These concerns should be directed to your attorney who may be able to strategize, assist, or advise you in bringing your concern to the Wyoming State Bar Association or the judge on your case. If you do not have an attorney, you should bring the concern to the attention of the judge at a hearing or the Wyoming State Bar Association.
#10: Why doesn't my child have a GAL in their CHINS or delinquency case? Wyoming statute does not allow for the automatic appointment of GALs in CHINS or delinquency cases. If the judge finds that the parents’ interests are adverse to the child or the parents are not present, a GAL from the GAL Program will be appointed. Until the court makes these findings, the Wyoming GAL Program cannot be involved.
#11: I need legal advice, who do I call? The Wyoming GAL Program cannot provide legal advice on any private matter to any individual for any reason. We suggest contacting an attorney in your community. If you need assistance finding an attorney in your community, you can contact the Wyoming State Bar Association.
#12: I need an attorney or a GAL, who do you recommend? The Wyoming GAL Program cannot provide recommendations for any attorney.