What Factors are Considered in Determining Parenting Time in Montana?

As experienced child custody and parenting time lawyers, we understand that navigating the complexities of custody arrangements and parenting time can be challenging for parents going through a separation or divorce. In Montana, the court’s primary goal is to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. This article will explore the factors considered when determining parenting time in Montana, and how we at BKBH can help guide you through this process. 

If you need assistance with a child custody matter, we invite you to call our offices to schedule a consultation with an experienced parenting time attorney. We can listen to your objectives, answer any questions that you may have, and tenaciously advocate for a fair and favorable parenting arrangement.  

Best Interest Standard in Montana

The Montana Code outlines the best interest standards that courts must follow when making decisions about parenting time. These standards serve as a foundation for determining what is best for the child, taking into account several factors, including the child’s wishes, the parents’ wishes, and the continuity and stability of care. 

  • Parents’ Wishes. When determining parenting time, the court will consider the wishes of the parents. If both parents can reach an agreement on a parenting plan, the court will generally approve it, provided that it meets the best interest standards. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will step in and make a decision based on the child’s best interests. 
  • Child’s Wishes. In some cases, the court will also consider the child’s wishes when determining parenting time. While Montana law does not specify a minimum age for children to express their preferences, we have seen judges take the child’s wishes into account even if they are younger than 14 years old. However, the weight given to the child’s wishes will depend on the judge and the child’s age, maturity, and ability to express their preferences clearly. 
  • Continuity and Stability of Care. Perhaps the most critical factor in determining parenting time is the continuity and stability of care for the child. The court recognizes that while the parents are the ones separating, the child should not have to endure unnecessary disruption in their life. Ensuring that the child has a consistent routine, stable environment, and the ability to maintain relationships with both parents is essential. 

For example, if a proposed parenting plan would result in the child having to change schools or move away from their support network, the court may be less likely to approve it. In such cases, the court will seek an alternative arrangement that minimizes disruption to the child’s life while still allowing for meaningful contact with both parents. 

Other Factors That Montana Courts May Consider When Making Parenting Time Determinations

In addition to the factors mentioned above, the Montana Code also considers several other factors when determining parenting time. These may include: 

  • The child’s emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs. 
  • The parents’ abilities to meet the child’s needs, including their physical and mental health, financial resources, and any history of abuse or neglect. 
  • The relationship between the child and each parent, including the child’s attachment to each parent and any history of abuse or neglect. 
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to cooperate with the other in making decisions about the child’s upbringing and to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. 
  • The nature and extent of any existing parenting arrangements and the degree to which each parent has fulfilled their responsibilities. 
  • Any other relevant factors that the court deems appropriate. 

How BKBH Helps In Montana Parenting Time Matters

At BKBH, our experienced child custody and parenting time attorneys understand the complexities and emotional challenges associated with determining parenting time in Montana. We are committed to helping our clients navigate the legal process, ensuring their rights are protected and advocating for the best interests of their children. 

We will work with you to develop a thorough understanding of your situation, provide guidance on the best course of action, and represent you in court if necessary. Our goal is to help you achieve a fair and workable parenting plan that meets the best interest standards set forth by Montana law and prioritizes the well-being of your child. 

Supporting You Through the Process

From the initial consultation to the final resolution of your case, our team at BKBH will provide comprehensive support and expert legal advice. We understand that each family’s situation is unique, and we will take the time to listen to your concerns and goals, answer your questions, and develop a tailored strategy to address your specific needs. 

In many cases, the ideal outcome involves reaching an agreement on a parenting plan that both parties can support. Our attorneys are experienced negotiators and can assist you in working collaboratively with your child’s other parent to develop a parenting plan that meets your child’s needs and maintains the important relationships in their life. We can also provide guidance on modifying existing parenting plans in response to changes in circumstances or the needs of your child. 

If an agreement on parenting time cannot be reached through negotiation, our experienced litigators are prepared to represent you in court. We understand that litigation can be a stressful and emotional experience, and our team is dedicated to providing compassionate support and aggressive representation to protect your rights and the best interests of your child. 

Preparing for the Future

Once a parenting plan has been established, our work does not end there. We will continue to provide guidance and support as you adapt to your new parenting arrangement, ensuring that you have the tools and resources necessary to build a strong foundation for your child’s future. We can also assist with enforcement of parenting time orders and modifications as your child’s needs change over time. 

Schedule A Consultation With An Experienced Montana Parenting Time Attorney.

Determining parenting time in Montana is a complex and emotionally challenging process, but with the support of experienced child custody and parenting time lawyers like those at BKBH, you can navigate the legal system with confidence. By prioritizing the best interests of your child and working collaboratively with your child’s other parent, you can establish a parenting plan that provides stability, continuity, and the foundation for a successful future. 

At BKBH, we are committed to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their children and themselves. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can support you in your journey to establish a fair and effective parenting plan.