How are Parenting Time Decisions Made in Montana?

Parenting time decisions are crucial for families going through separation or divorce, as they determine the amount of time each parent spends with their children. In Montana, these decisions are primarily made by the parents themselves, who ideally work together to create a parenting plan that serves the best interests of their children. In cases where parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may intervene. This article discusses how parenting time decisions are made in Montana, the importance of a parenting plan, and when it is necessary to seek help from a judge.

What Is A Parenting Plan?

In Montana, parents are encouraged to work together to determine parenting time for their children. It is important to note that a parenting plan is not a document that gives something, but rather a limiting document.

Without a parenting plan, both parents have the inherent right to be with their children 100% of the time. A parenting plan is a contract that specifies the designated time each parent has with the children, as opposed to the unlimited access they would have otherwise.

What Should Be Addressed in A Montana Parenting Plan?

Ideally, parents should collaborate to create a parenting plan that outlines the time each parent spends with their children, as they are the ones who know their children’s needs and interests best. A well-crafted parenting plan can help maintain a sense of stability and security for the children during a challenging time.

A comprehensive parenting plan should include:

  • A schedule outlining when the children will spend time with each parent, including weekdays, weekends, holidays, and school breaks.
  • Guidelines for making decisions about the children’s education, health care, and other important matters.
  • Provisions for communication between parents, including how they will share information about the children’s well-being and activities.
  • Plans for resolving disputes and modifying the parenting plan as needed.

Involving a Judge in Parenting Time Decisions

In cases where parents cannot reach an agreement on a parenting plan, they can ask a judge for help. The judge will examine various factors to determine the best course of action for the children. These factors may include (but are not limited to):

  • The children’s age, needs, and preferences.
  • The parents’ ability to meet the children’s needs.
  • The parents’ willingness to support the children’s relationship with the other parent.
  • The children’s connection to their home, school, and community.
  • Any history of abuse or neglect by either parent.

It is essential to understand that the court’s primary concern is the best interest of the children. The judge may order a custody evaluation or seek input from a guardian ad litem to ensure that the parenting plan serves the children’s best interests.

It is also critical to appreciate that the judge will seek to establish a parenting plan that best complies with the interests of the children – not the parents.  The judge will also not be as familiar with the schedules and lifestyle of the parents, such as whether one parent may need to travel frequently for work.  As a result, a parenting plan determined by a judge may not be favorable to either of the parents, which is why a parenting plan developed by the parents will likely have better results than leaving it up to a judge to create the parenting plan.

Need Help Resolving a Parenting Time Matter? Schedule A Consultation With An Experienced Montana Child Custody Attorney and Parenting Time Lawyer.

If you are facing parenting time decisions in Montana and need legal guidance, consider scheduling a consultation with a dedicated parenting time attorney at BKBH. Our experienced family law attorneys can help navigate the complexities of parenting plans and work towards seeking a resolution that benefits both you and your children.