MontanaChild Visitation Laws
Montana Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
What is child visitation?In the context of a child custody case, visitation is defined as the rights for a non-custodial parent to see their child, or as temporary custody that's been granted for a period of time to an otherwise non-custodial parent or relative.
In general, courts in Montana assume that it is beneficial for both biological parents of a child to have shared custody or visitation, unless it is shown to be against the child's best interests. A biological parent who is denied custody may be awarded visitation rights to provide for a relationship between the parent and child.
Visitation by grandparents, family members, or other third-parties is less clear cut in Montana, and nationwide. While there are state guidelines regarding third-party visitation in certain situations, these laws are frequently challenged.
Above all else, courts in Montana strive to make custody and visitation decisions that are "in the best interests of the child". The court handling each individual visitation case has significant flexibility in determining what arrangement is in the child's best interests. You can read about Montana's visitation guildelines on this page.
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The court will decide a request for visitation based on whether granting a parent visitation would be in the "best interests of the child."
What is considered in a child's "best interests" are outlined under the custody and visitation statute which indicate the following factors are relevant to this type of decision which state:
- the wishes of the child's parent or parents
- the wishes of the child
- the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents and siblings and with any other person who significantly affects the child's best interest
- the child's adjustment to home, school, and community
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- physical abuse or threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other parent or the child
- chemical dependency, or chemical abuse on the part of either parent
- continuity and stability of care
- whether a parent has knowingly failed to financially support a child that the parent is able to support, which is considered to be not in the child's best interests
- whether the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents
A court may award visitation rights to a grandparent if it is in the child's best interest.
A court may award visitation rights if the court finds that visitation is in the child's best interest. Adoption cuts off the visitation rights of grandparents unless adoption is granted to a step-parent or another grandparent.
In the state of Montana, there are a number of laws regarding child visitation regarding visitation for third-parties other than the biological parents of the child. While state laws regarding third-party visitation have been frequently been challenged in courts, they are a good indication of Montana's positions regarding non-parental visitation rights.
Visitation Rights Of Grandparents In Montana:
Montana has special statutes regarding the child visitiation rights of grandparents under different circumstances. Under state law, the grandparents of children may obtain visitation while the parents are alive, regardless of the parent's marital status.
Regardless of state presumptions regarding grandparent's visitation rights under specific circumstances, a Montana court may allow or prevent visitation rights in any situation based on the best interests of the child.
Visitation Rights Of Other Parties In Montana:
Are step-parents granted visitation rights in the state of Montana?
Generally it is an uphill battle for step-parents seeking visitation rights for a step-child, especially if the biological parents of the child are alive and are opposed to the visitation.
Under Montana law, legal provisions do exist to grant child visitation rights to step-parents under certain circumstances, so visitation can be readily applied for. In all cases, third-party visitation rights are more likely to be granted by the court if they are deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
Can other interested parties or relatives be granted visitation rights to a child in Montana?
Under state of Montana law, it may be possible for other individuals to be granted visitation rights by the court. This might include relatives other than the child'a parents, previous caregivers, etc.
Can parents be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or adoption in Montana?
In the state of Montana it may not be possible to be granted visitation rights after losing parental rights or giving up a child for adoption. This is the case with both biological parents and previous guardians.