Wyoming Supreme Court sides with mother in guardianship dispute



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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman and her parents in a guardianship dispute that saw the three men take the woman’s child to South Dakota without the knowledge of the co-guardians of the ‘child.

Judges ruled Tuesday in favor of Diona Palu and her parents Brandon and Diane McArthur, ruling that the child’s co-guardians, Kevin and Darcy Guille, had not provided sufficient evidence that Palu should be declared an unfit parent .

The judges said that due to the limited information about the case as it was argued in the Cheyenne State District Court, they had to assume that the lower court’s decision was correct.

“To assess whether the district court’s finding on parental suitability is contrary to the heavy weight of evidence, we need a transcript or statement of evidence,” said the opinion, written by the judge. Lynne Boomgaarden. “… (The) file does not contain either. Therefore, we cannot view the court’s conclusion in light of the evidence as a whole, and must instead assume that the court’s finding on parenting ability is correct.

The decision stems from an agreement between Palu and the Guilles in June 2020 appointing the Guilles as co-guardians of the child of Palu, identified only as DEP.

According to the ruling, the Guilles, who had been the guardian of the child, said guardianship was established because Palu “had not been available to raise the child, was using drugs, had problems with mental health, acted irresponsibly and was unemployed “.

In December 2020, the Guilles allowed Palu and his parents to do the DEP Christmas shopping.

“Instead of returning the child to the Guilles after the visit, the mother and the McArthurs returned to their South Dakota home with the child,” the ruling said. “Then they sent the Guilles a letter explaining their decision. The letter made it clear that they did not intend to return the child.

The Guilles petitioned the state’s district court to demand the return of the child, while Palu requested that the Guilles’ co-guardianship over her child be terminated.

The Guilles said they were concerned about the child because Palu had previously neglected his parental duties. But the lower court ruled that Palu’s situation had changed significantly since the trusteeship agreement was made, leaving her fit to parent.

The judges said there was not enough evidence to prove otherwise.

“The district court implicitly concluded that the mother had established that guardianship was no longer necessary for the reason it was established,” the ruling said. “The court also implicitly determined that the Guilles had failed to prove that the mother was unfit because she” (had) a safe and stable place to live with the child “, was employed and was” engaged in tips to help solve mental health problems. ‘”

As a result, the judges upheld the state district court’s decision.

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