Montana Child Custody Laws and the Parenting Plan

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Montana uses several criteria to determine custody of a child. Primarily, a family court in Montana determines custody based on the best interests of the child. In Montana, parents who wish to file for custody should first become familiar with the child custody laws in Montana.

The Use of a Parenting Plan in Montana

In Montana, both parents must submit a proposed parenting plan to the court which explains their proposed custody arrangement.

A final parenting plan will include:

  • Designation of a parent as primary custodian
  • Physical residence of the child
  • Finances to provide for the child
  • Factors relevant to the physical and mental well-being of a child

Best Interests of the Child

A court in Montana will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. Factors included in determining a child's best interests include:

  • The child's wishes
  • Each parent's wishes
  • The mental and physical health of all involved parties
  • Any history of abuse between parents
  • The child's adjustment to home, school and community
  • The needs of the child
  • The child's relationship with his/her parents, siblings and extended family members
  • Whether either parent has knowingly failed to financially support a child

Modification of Child Custody in Montana

If a parent in Montana desires to alter the parenting plan, the court would expect the parent to prove a significant change of circumstances and that a modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.

The court may also consider the following additional factors:

  • Whether the parents agree to the modification
  • Whether the child is 14 years of age or older and requests the modification
  • Whether one parent intends to relocate and whether the relocation will significantly decrease the time the child spends with the other parent
  • Whether one parent has consistently and willfully refused for the child to have contact with the other parent or attempted to deny the child contact with the other parent

For further information about child custody laws in Montana, speak with a qualified attorney in Montana or refer to the Montana Code.