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Missoula Montana Family Law Blog

Custody decisions in Montana

Parents who are going through a divorce in Montana must do their best to decide how to divide child custody in a fair and equitable manner. This includes focusing on what is best for the child and making sure each parent has a role in parenting.

According to the Montana Judicial Branch, rather than use the term custody, the courts prefer to use parenting time to describe the agreement between the two parents. This term better emphasizes the fact that parents should make decisions based on what is best for the child as opposed to what is best for mom and dad. Ideally, both parents should come to an agreement, but if they are unable to, a judge will make the decision. 

Job-related challenges and divorce

There are many different factors that can make it more difficult for some people to maneuver the divorce process. For some couples in the state of Montana, job-related challenges can bring an additional amount of stress into their daily lives, and this can be counterproductive for those who are trying to secure favorable outcomes with respect to numerous family law issues (such as a custody dispute, alimony, etc.). It is important to carefully review your divorce case and any of the legal topics that you may have to address as you work toward the end of your marriage.

If you are facing challenges in your professional life, these issues could complicate your divorce case in different ways. For example, if your job has been very demanding (such as working an excessive amount of overtime), you could feel drained of energy and stressed out, which may get in the way of preparing for your divorce. Or, you could be going through financial difficulties due to a demotion or even the loss of your job, which may raise questions about spousal support and child support.

Gambling addiction and the divorce process

Whether someone is addicted to slot machines, card games or betting on sports, gambling addictions can make life challenging in many ways. Sometimes, compulsive gambling results in the breakdown of a marriage, especially if a spouse is upset with their partner’s behavior or the financial complications associated with excessive gambling. Moreover, even when a gambling problem is not to blame for the end of a marriage, someone who has a tendency to gamble too much may have an especially difficult time with this during their divorce.

If you struggle with problem gambling, it is important to prevent divorce-related stress from worsening your gambling habits. Our law office understands how stressful divorce issues can be, but those who turn to gambling and other potentially concerning behaviors to cope with their stress may find themselves in an even worse position. On the other hand, if you are married to someone who struggles with gambling, you may find that it is necessary to end the marriage. Unfortunately, your attempts to convince your partner to stop gambling may have been unfruitful, and you may be tired of dealing with financial hardships resulting from your spouse’s gambling habit.

Child support tips for dads

Montana divorce rates have dropped, and more dads want ongoing relationships with their children. However, despite these numbers, there is still a large group of single fathers who need information about child support, how the system works and what they should consider when setting up a plan. At the Cunningham Law Office, we can help you work out a plan with your ex that makes financial sense for you and your kids.

According to Fatherly, leaving emotion out of the proceedings is critical to making choices regarding child support. Here are some tips that can help you navigate the legal system and ensure your plan meets state requirements.

  • Avoid financial penalties by making payments on time. Not only can it result in tax intercepts and garnished wages, but it also creates animosity between you and your ex. This can result in heightened tension in an already awkward relationship.
  • Keep financial records of all transactions, from the payments to other expenses such as clothing and medical care. Although this does not affect your current terms, it may matter if you go back to court later and renegotiate the child support amount.
  • Determine the best dispute resolution method. Even if you and your ex have an amicable relationship now, that could change. Some issues result in disagreements that seem outside the realm of compromise. Make sure there is a way to address the problem before the situation boils over and you wind up back in court.

Custody issues related to your career

Child custody can be a tough aspect of family law for many reasons. For starters, uncertainty involving the custody of a child can lead to serious emotional hurdles, such as depression, anxiety and anger. These negative emotions can carry over into other facets of your life, such as your job. For example, your performance at work may suffer because of the emotions you are going through, and there are other ways in which child custody could affect your career. It is pivotal to handle custody issues properly and do all you can to protect your child’s future while minimizing any repercussions that a custody dispute may have on your life.

Other issues that may arise with respect to custody and your career involve relocation and the way in which your work schedule could affect your custody arrangement. Some parents have to move for work, which can become especially tricky after a divorce when they have to share custody with their ex. Others may work a very demanding schedule, or they may work odd and unusual hours, which can make it difficult to create an effective custody agreement.

Protecting your reputation during divorce

The end of a marriage can be a difficult process for various reasons, such as a parent’s unwillingness to pay child support or disagreement regarding how custody should be split up. Sometimes, a person’s reputation may be at stake, both during and after the divorce process. For example, someone may worry that an unfavorable outcome in court, such as losing a custody dispute, could reflect poorly on their reputation. Or, someone may find that the very decision to file for divorce has brought judgment from their friends, family members and even the community, in some cases. Moreover, some people face these problems because of personal attacks coming from their former partner.

It is essential to protect your reputation and there are a number of ways in which you may be able to accomplish this. For example, you should be careful about what you say online and to friends and family members during this time. Sharing certain types of information could reflect poorly on you and may even adversely affect your case (such as lifestyle choices that may impact a custody decision).

Can your child support obligation be modified?

When you and your spouse choose to get a divorce in Missoula, you may naturally expect to have to pay child support. Like most parents, you probably have no issue with supporting your children financially, yet at the same time, you do not want your child support obligation to become a prohibitive expense. That might happen if your financial circumstances take a turn for the worse after your children support agreement has gone into effect. What should you do, then, if this happens? 

You do not want to miss any payments. Having child support arrears could put you in jeopardy of having your wages garnished or even being jailed. On top of that, your ex-spouse could use the fact that you have missed child support payments against you in an attempt to limit your custody. Rather than missing a payment, your best course of action is to inform of the court of your situation and seek a modification of your existing order. 

Poverty, other financial issues and divorce

Many people concentrate on emotional issues surrounding divorce, such as depression and other negative feelings, while some may have serious concerns related to their children (how custody will be awarded, the ways in which their kids will be impacted by the divorce process, and so on). There are many other divorce issues to explore, however, such as various financial considerations. For some parents, poverty is a serious challenge with respect to divorce, whether financial challenges led to the breakdown of a marriage or a parent is worried about their financial future afterward. There may be many other financial considerations to go over before and after a divorce as well.

If you are currently facing financial hardships, it is important to approach your divorce from the right angle. There could be different strategies to make your divorce less costly, and you may be able to reduce the financial impact of your divorce by planning ahead carefully. Even if you are not experiencing financial difficulties and do not anticipate these problems to arise in the future, the end of your marriage could affect your finances in many ways. For example, you may need to pay alimony or child support, or you could struggle with the division of marital property.

A fresh start after ending your marriage

Marriages fall apart for countless reasons, and every couple faces unique circumstances. For example, some do not have kids together, while others struggle with custody disputes or financial concerns as a result of property division, child support, alimony or another factor. Some people tend to dwell on some of the negative aspects of the divorce process, but there are a number of positive ways in which life can change as well. For example, some people are able to find a fresh start after splitting up with their spouse.

Sometimes, people feel trapped in a marriage. A marriage may cause someone to feel emotionally trapped, or they may feel as if they are unable to pursue career opportunities or live life according to their wishes. For example, someone might need to relocate for a better position, but their spouse may have been opposed to the idea. Or, they may have wanted to pursue certain hobbies and activities that their spouse was not supportive of. Sometimes, married couples are not compatible, which can cause each person to feel a sense of despair and result in other challenges such as depression, anxiety, etc.

Understanding settlement conferences

In the past, if you and your spouse decided to get divorced in Montana, you had few options available to you besides going to court. However, due in part to the high costs involved in litigation, both in terms of time and money, as well as the desirability of maintaining cordial relations between spouses, alternative dispute resolution options are increasingly available to help you reach a divorce agreement. We at Cunningham Law Office understand that you may feel confused or overwhelmed by the choices available to you. In this article, we explain a term with which you may not be familiar: settlement conference.

According to the American Bar Association, a settlement conference involves a neutral third party who assists you and your spouse to explore settlement options in lieu of going to court for a hearing. A settlement conference is similar to mediation in some ways. Both are forms of alternative dispute resolution meant to reach an agreement outside of court and moderated by a third party with no personal interest in the case. However, a settlement conference is different from mediation in some significant ways. 

Cunningham Law Office is a family law-focused firm in Missoula, Montana. We serve Missoula, Ravalli County, and the surrounding area.