Child custody is referred to as “parenting” in Montana. If parents are not able to agree to a parenting plan on their own, the court will decide a parenting plan for them. However, courts encourage the parents try to agree to a parenting plan outside of court, as the parents are often in the best position to determine what is best for their children.
Montana law says: “The court shall determine the parenting plan in accordance with the best interest of the child.” § 40–4–212, MCA. When determining a parenting plan, Montana courts consider these factors:
- The wishes of the parents
- The wishes of the child
- The child’s interactions and relationships with others who significantly affect the child’s best interests
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- Physical abuse (or threat of physical abuse) by one parent against the other parent or the child
- Either parent’s chemical dependency or chemical abuse
- The continuity and stability of care
- The developmental needs of the child
- Whether a parent has knowingly failed to pay birth-related costs that the parent is able to pay
- Whether a parent has knowingly failed to financially support a child that the parent is able to support
- Whether the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents, which is presumed to be in the child’s best interests unless determined otherwise
Parenting arrangements are determined on a case-by-case basis. This is because no two families are exactly alike. If you are in need of legal representation to establish or amend a parenting plan, please call our office to schedule an appointment.