Co-Parenting in Montana: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

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Custody & Parental Rights in Montana

In Montana, both parents are assumed to have equal rights to their children—parental rights. While both parents are naturally assumed to be able to take care of their own children, the court will get involved if either parent disputes their partner's parental rights or wants to change the situation. In such cases, the court will decide what to do regarding custody, usually relying on factors such as the age of the children and their current living environment.


In Montana, the court recognizes both joint and physical custody, depending on the relationship between the parents. Joint custody is when both parents can make decisions about their children's education, medical care, and other facets of their upbringing. It grants both parents access to their children and requires them to communicate between one another when making decisions. On the other hand, physical custody is when one parent has the main responsibility for taking care of the child, whether that be providing them with physical shelter and nourishment or simply being the main caretaker. The court can decide to split custody between the parents, dividing their responsibility and giving them both partial rights to their children.


Child Support Payments in Montana

Child support payments are another important topic that needs to be addressed when it comes to co-parenting. In Montana, a court-ordered child support payment amount depends on a variety of factors such as the incomes of both parties, the number of children involved, the financial resources of both parents, and the needs of the children. The court could also consider factors such as the parents' earning potential, the cost of childcare, health insurance or other healthcare costs, and transportation and education expenses. According to Montana law (Mont. Code Ann. §§ 40-4-201), the parent who earns less is entitled to receive support from the other parent to ensure that their children have the same standard of living even if the parents split.


Co-Parenting Expenses & Decisions

While the court has the power to determine who will pay for different expenses related to the upbringing of children, it is ultimately up to both parties to decide how they want to divide the costs and make decisions. Apart from the standard expenses like food, clothing, and school supplies, additional costs such as medical and dental expenses, travel costs related to the visitation of the children and extracurricular activities may be subject to discussion and division between the parents.


Decisions about religious upbringing, college expenses, and other matters related to the upbringing of the children are all also up for discussion. Unlike child support payments, which are legally binding, these costs and decisions can be handled in whatever way the parents see fit and agree upon.


Parenting Plans in Montana

The court requires both parties to come up with a parenting plan when co-parenting. This plan is designed to ensure that both parents can still maintain a relationship with their children, while also respecting each other's parental rights and abilities. Parenting plans will generally address some of the topics mentioned previously, such as custody and decisions, as well as visitation rights and visitation schedules.


A parenting plan should also encompass provisions such as how disputes will be settled, how communication between the parents will work, how parental roles will be shared and divided, including what activities the children will participate in and how decisions involving them will be made. Ultimately, the plan should ensure that the children have a stable living environment, are kept in their best interests, and have a healthy relationship with both parents.


Visitation Rights in Montana

Visitation rights are the rights that both parents have to see their children and maintain a relationship with them. In Montana, the court has the power to grant one parent with visitation rights, which will consist of specified periods of time and/or days with their children. The court may also recognize supervised visitation if it believes that unsafe conditions may exist if the parent were to be given unsupervised visitations. Visitation can include phone calls and other means of communication.


When the court decides on visitation rights, they take into account factors such as the relationship between both parents and their children, the current physical, mental, and emotional wellbeings of the children, and the general relationship between both parents. In any case, the court forbids any parent to deny visitation rights or restrict communication between their children and the other parent.


Mediation for Co-Parenting Agreements

In Montana, it is highly recommended that both parties seek mediation when figuring out the details of their co-parenting arrangements. This option is preferred since it allows for both parents to come to their own decisions in a more informal manner. It's also an ideal way to settle disagreements or disputes in a constructive and controlled environment, as well as to gather important information and opinions from both sides that may be pertinent to the process of co-parenting.


Mediation is recommended if the parents are unable to come to agreements on their own, or if their communication has broken down. It also allows for more flexible solutions since the mediator can propose alternative solutions and options that may not be available through the court. There are counseling and mediation centers throughout Montana that can provide services to help couples reach agreements on parenting plans, custody and visitation rights, and other co-parenting topics.



Overall, Montana offers an ample amount of options and legal tools for parents that are looking to navigate the tricky process of co-parenting. It's important to know and understand the law in detail in order to protect your rights as a parent, as well as your children's best interests. With the right guidance, co-parenting in Montana can be made easier to understand and ultimately more successful in the long run.


Fact Check and Resources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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