IN THE INTEREST OF: JW and TLW, Minor Children.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Petitioner). TW, Appellant (Respondent),
from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable
Michael N. Deegan, Judge
Representing Appellant: Lisa K. Finkey and Cameron W. Geeting
of Finkey Law, LLC, Gillette, Wyoming. Argument by Ms.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; Misha E. Westby, Deputy Attorney General; Jill E.
Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Shawnna M. Herron,
Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Herron.
Guardians ad Litem: Dan S. Wilde, Deputy State Public
Defender; Aaron S. Hockman, Chief Trial and Appellate
Counsel, Wyoming Guardian ad Litem Program, a division of the
Office of the State Public Defender.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL [*] , DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
TW is the father of two boys, JW and TLW, who were five and
three years old when the State of Wyoming filed a juvenile
court petition alleging that they had been neglected. He
appeals from the court's order altering the plan for
permanent placement of the boys from reunification of the
family to termination of his parental rights and adoption. We
TW raises a single issue that we slightly restate as follows:
Did the juvenile court abuse its discretion when it
determined that the Wyoming Department of Family Services
(DFS) made reasonable but unsuccessful efforts to reunify the
family, and that the permanency plan for the children should
accordingly be changed to adoption?
On January 28, 2015, the State filed a neglect petition. It
alleged that in late December of 2014 the mother of the boys,
and of a one-year old girl with a different father, was
suspected of using methamphetamine. She was also homeless,
and had left the boys with TW's family in the hope that
she could retrieve them after she got back on her feet. The
daughter was left with her father and Mother's sister. At
that time, the boys also needed medical treatment for a
severe case of impetigo.
Approximately eight months earlier, reports to DFS indicated
that Mother was smoking marijuana and not providing the
children adequate medical or general care. She was largely
uncooperative with DFS's investigation, and for a period
beginning in late October of 2014, the agency could not
On August 21, 2015, the State filed an amended neglect
petition. It alleged that the three children had been placed
in DFS custody in Gillette, that the girl was residing with
Mother's maternal aunt, and that the boys were in foster
care. The allegations of neglect against Mother remained the
same, but the amended petition further asserted that she
abandoned the children in January and had failed to respond
to requests to become involved in the neglect action. The
petition also alleged for the first time that TW had
neglected his two sons because his incarceration or detention
in the Wyoming penal system made him unable to provide them
with the care necessary for their well-being. At that time,
he resided at a community corrections facility in Casper as a
TW was ordered to come before the juvenile court for an
initial appearance and "such other proceedings as are
proper" on September 24, 2015. Mother participated in