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Montana Child Custody
Child Custody in Montana
According to the Montana Code, Section 40, Title: 4-212, "[t]he court shall determine the parenting plan in accordance with all relevant factors outlined and pertaining to the best interest of the child."
Montana child custody laws protect and promote the child's welfare. Montana's family courts urge divorcing parents to work out the details of raising their child after a divorce. Cooperative divorced parenting reflects a willingness to meet the needs of their child and strengthen the parent-child relationship. The court steps in to resolve issues on child custody, support, and visitation rights when parents cannot. The court bases custody decisions on the best interests of the child.
Divorcing parents submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. The parenting plan may be submitted jointly or separately. Based on the best interests of the child, the court awards either sole or joint custody. Montana child custody laws prohibit the court from determining custody based on presumption rather than considering factors to minimize the emotional impact of divorce.
Family courts have jurisdiction over child custody actions. The court considers several factors that help it decide the most feasible custody arrangement, including:
Mandatory Parenting Class
Montana courts have the right to require divorcing parents with minor children to complete a parenting class before granting a divorce. It is the Judge's discretion, so he or she may require you to take a parenting class. Whether or not you are required to do so, we highly recommend taking the Children In Between parenting class for the benefit of your child(ren).
Joint Custody Preference
Montana law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as practically possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case. When parents agree on custody arrangements, Montana requires that the agreement clearly define both legal and physical custody and include a parenting plan. Physical custody means where the child resides and with whom, and legal custody defines the right to make decisions regarding the child's upbringing, including childcare, education and medical needs.
The court does not grant custody based solely on the child's gender or the parents' financial status.
Third Party Custody
In some cases, a third party, or someone other than a child's biological parents, tries to gain custody of a child.
In order for a third party to receive custody, he or she must apply for guardianship with Department of Public Health and Human Services. The department reviews the application and makes certain that the petitioner meets certain criteria in providing for the child. These criteria include whether:
To make these determinations, DPHHS can request financial and other records establishing fitness and residency from the party seeking custody.
In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.
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