Parenting & Child Custody Factors

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.”  § 404212, 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.