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.
According to Live About, there are different types of custody to consider. One is physical, which is deciding who the child lives with. Another type is legal, which determines who makes final decisions regarding medical care, education and religion. Parents must also decide whether to share custody, which is joint, or if one parent has sole custody.
A parenting plan should take into consideration the best interests of the child. The factors involved include:
- The wishes of both parents as well as those of older children
- The child's relationship with family members
- Physical and mental health of parents and child
- How the child will adjust to changes at school and home
- The child's specific needs
Modification of the parenting plan may be necessary in certain situations. These include when one parent is relocating, a child 14 years of age and older requests it or if both parents agree to a modification.